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Terabit-Scale Orbital Angular Momentum Mode Division Multiplexing in Fibers

Science  28 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6140, pp. 1545-1548
DOI: 10.1126/science.1237861

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A Twist on the Capacity Crunch

The rate at which data can be transmitted down optic fibers is approaching a limit because of nonlinear optical effects. Multiplexing allows data to be encoded in different modes of light such as polarization, wavelength, amplitude, and phase and to be sent down the fibers in parallel. Optical angular momentum (OAM) can provide another degree of freedom whereby the photons are given a well-defined twist or helicity. Bozinovic et al. (p. 1545) were able to transmit high-bandwidth data using OAM modes in long lengths of optical fibers, thus providing a possible route to get yet more capacity through optic fiber networks.

Abstract

Internet data traffic capacity is rapidly reaching limits imposed by optical fiber nonlinear effects. Having almost exhausted available degrees of freedom to orthogonally multiplex data, the possibility is now being explored of using spatial modes of fibers to enhance data capacity. We demonstrate the viability of using the orbital angular momentum (OAM) of light to create orthogonal, spatially distinct streams of data-transmitting channels that are multiplexed in a single fiber. Over 1.1 kilometers of a specially designed optical fiber that minimizes mode coupling, we achieved 400-gigabits-per-second data transmission using four angular momentum modes at a single wavelength, and 1.6 terabits per second using two OAM modes over 10 wavelengths. These demonstrations suggest that OAM could provide an additional degree of freedom for data multiplexing in future fiber networks.

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