Orbital angular momentum in optical fibers
MetadataShow full item record
Internet data traffic capacity is rapidly reaching limits imposed by nonlinear effects of single mode fibers currently used in optical communications. Having almost exhausted available degrees of freedom to orthogonally multiplex data in optical fibers, researchers are now exploring the possibility of using the spatial dimension of fibers, via multicore and multimode fibers, to address the forthcoming capacity crunch. While multicore fibers require complex manufacturing, conventional multimode fibers suffer from mode coupling, caused by random perturbations in fibers and modal (de)multiplexers. Methods that have been developed to address the problem of mode coupling so far, have been dependent on computationally intensive digital signal processing algorithms using adaptive optics feedback or complex multiple-input multiple-output algorithms. Here we study the possibility of using the orbital angular momentum (OAM), or helicity, of light, as a means of increasing capacity of future optical fiber communication links. We first introduce a class of specialty fibers designed to minimize mode coupling and show their potential for OAM mode generation in fibers using numerical analysis. We then experimentally confirm the existence of OAM states in these fibers using methods based on fiber gratings and spatial light modulators. In order to quantify the purity of created OAM states, we developed two methods based on mode-image analysis, showing purity of OAM states to be 90% after 1km in these fibers. Finally, in order to demonstrate data transmission using OAM states, we developed a 4-mode multiplexing and demultiplexing systems based on free-space optics and spatial light modulators. Using simple coherent detection methods, we successfully transmit data at 400Gbit/s using four OAM modes at a single wavelength, over 1.1 km of fiber. Furthermore, we achieve data transmission at 1.6Tbit/s using 10 wavelengths and two OAM modes. Our study indicates that OAM light can exist, and be long lived, in a special class of fibers and our data transmission demonstrations show that OAM could be considered an additional degree of freedom for data multiplexing in future optical fiber communication links. Our studies open the doors for other applications such as micro-endoscopy and nanoscale imaging which require fiber based remote delivery of OAM light.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University