The importance of developing a polarization controller, suitable for use in the coherent detection receivers of the next generation of optical fiber communication systems, has been recognized for some time. Consequently there is now a considerable body of literature reporting polarization controlling devices based on a variety of physical effects.1 These devices have enabled the principle of various coherent detection schemes to be demonstrated experimentally, albeit essentially in laboratory conditions. However, with the possible exception of lithium niobate waveguide devices, none of these devices appears to be a realistic candidate for further refinement or development into a controller which might be incorporated into a real fiber communication system operational in the field. These devices suffer from one or more of the following four main types of problem: mechanical fatigue, lack of endlessness, relatively high controlling voltages for operating the device

© 1989 Optical Society of America

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