Fiber optic communication; optical fibers; space division multiplexing


Single-mode fiber transmission can no longer satisfy exponentially growing capacity demand. Space-division multiplexing (SDM) appears to be the only way able to dramatically improve the transmission capacity, for which, novel optical fiber is one of the key technologies. Such fibers must possess the following characteristics: 1) high mode density per cross-sectional area and 2) low crosstalk or low modal differential group delay (DMGD) to reduce complexity of digital signal processing. In this dissertation, we explore the design and characterization of three kinds of fibers for SDM: few-mode fiber (FMF), few-mode multi-core fiber (FM-MCF) and coupled multi-core fiber (CMCF) as well as their applications in transmission and networking. For the ultra-high density need of SDM, we have proposed the FMMCF. It combines advantages of both the FMF and MCF. The challenge is the inter-core crosstalk of the high-order modes. By applying a hole-assisted structure and careful fiber design, the LP11 crosstalk has been suppressed down to -40dB per km. This allows separate transmission on LP01 and LP11 modes without penalty. In fact, a robust SDM transmission up to 200Tb/s has been achieved using this fiber. To overcome distributed modal crosstalk in conjunction with DMGD, supermodes in CMCFs have been proposed. The properties of supermodes were investigated using the coupled-mode theory. The immediate benefits include high mode density and large effective area. In supermode structures, core-to-core coupling is exploited to reduce modal crosstalk or minimize DMGD. In addition, higher-order supermodes have been discovered in CMCFs with few-mode cores. We show that higher-order supermodes in different waveguide array configurations can be strongly affected by angle-dependent couplings, leading to different modal fields. Analytical solutions are provided for linear, rectangular and ring arrays. Higher-order modes have been observed for the first time using S2 imaging method. Finally, we introduce FMF to gigabit-capable passive optical networks (GPON). By replacing the conventional splitter with a photonic lantern, upstream combining loss can be eliminated. Low crosstalk has been achieved by a customized mode-selective photonic lantern carefully coupled to the FMF. We have demonstrated the first few-mode GPON system with error-free performance over 20-km 3-mode transmission using a commercial GPON system carrying live Ethernet traffic. We then scale the 3-mode GPON system to 5-mode, which resulted in a 4dB net gain in power budget in comparison with current commercial single-mode GPON systems.


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Graduation Date





Li, Guifang


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program

Optics and Photonics








Release Date

August 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Optics and Photonics; Optics and Photonics -- Dissertations, Academic