Abstract

Space-division multiplexing (SDM) uses multiplicity of space channels to increase capacity for optical communication. It is applicable for optical communication in both free space and guided waves. This paper focuses on SDM for fiber-optic communication using few-mode fibers or multimode fibers, in particular on the critical challenge of mode crosstalk. Multiple-input–multiple-output (MIMO) equalization methods developed for wireless communication can be applied as an electronic method to equalize mode crosstalk. Optical approaches, including differential modal group delay management, strong mode coupling, and multicore fibers, are necessary to bring the computational complexity for MIMO mode crosstalk equalization to practical levels. Progress in passive devices, such as (de)multiplexers, and active devices, such as amplifiers and switches, which are considered straightforward challenges in comparison with mode crosstalk, are reviewed. Finally, we present the prospects for SDM in optical transmission and networking.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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