Single-mode fibres with low loss and a large transmission bandwidth are a key enabler for long-haul high-speed optical communication and form the backbone of our information-driven society. However, we are on the verge of reaching the fundamental limit of single-mode fibre transmission capacity. Therefore, a new means to increase the transmission capacity of optical fibre is essential to avoid a capacity crunch. Here, by employing few-mode multicore fibre, compact three-dimensional waveguide multiplexers and energy-efficient frequency-domain multiple-input multiple-output equalization, we demonstrate the viability of spatial multiplexing to reach a data rate of 5.1 Tbit s−1 carrier−1 (net 4 Tbit s−1 carrier−1) on a single wavelength over a single fibre. Furthermore, by combining this approach with wavelength division multiplexing with 50 wavelength carriers on a dense 50 GHz grid, a gross transmission throughput of 255 Tbit s−1 (net 200 Tbit s−1) over a 1 km fibre link is achieved.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Subscribe to this journal
Receive 12 print issues and online access
$209.00 per year
only $17.42 per issue
Rent or buy this article
Prices vary by article type
Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout
Similar content being viewed by others
Essiambre, R. J. & Tkach, R. W. Capacity trends and limits of optical communication networks. Proc. IEEE 100, 1035–1055 (2012).
Winzer, P. J. Beyond 100 G ethernet. IEEE Commun. Mag. 48, 26–30 (2010).
Lingle, R. Capacity constraints, carrier economics, and the limits of fiber and cable design. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper QM2F1 (2013).
Ellis, A. D., Zhao, J. & Cotter, D. Approaching the non-linear Shannon limit. IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 28, 423–433 (2010).
Winzer, P. J. Energy-efficient optical transport capacity scaling through spatial multiplexing. IEEE Photon. Tech. Lett. 23, 851–853 (2011).
Richardson, D. J., Fini, J. M. & Nelson, L. E. Space-division multiplexing in optical fibres. Nature Photon. 7, 354–362 (2013).
Raddatz, L., White, I. H., Cunningham, D. G. & Nowell, M. C. An experimental and theoretical study of the offset launch technique for the enhancement of the bandwidth of multimode fiber links. IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 16, 324–331 (1998).
Sakaguchi, J. et al. 305 Tb/s space division multiplexed transmission using homogeneous 19-core fiber. IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 31, 554–562 (2013).
Mizuno, T. et al. 12-core × 3-mode dense space division multiplexed transmission over 40 km employing multi-carrier signals with parallel MIMO equalization. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper Th5B.2 (2014).
Igarashi, K. et al. 1.03-Exabit/s·km super-Nyquist-WDM transmission over 7,326-km seven-core fiber. 39th European Conference and Exhibition of Optical Communication, paper PD3.E.3 (2013).
Zhu, B. et al. Space-, wavelength-, polarization-division multiplexed transmission of 56-Tb/s over a 76.8-km seven-core fiber. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper PDPB.7 (2011).
Watanabe, T. & Kokubun, Y. Ultra-large number of transmission channels in space division multiplexing using few-mode multi-core fiber with optimized air-hole-assisted double-cladding structure. Opt. Express 22, 8309–8319 (2014).
Takara, H. et al. 1.01-Pb/s (12 SDM/222 WDM/456 Gb/s) crosstalk-managed transmission with 91.4-b/s/Hz aggregate spectral efficiency. 38th European Conference and Exhibition of Optical Communication, paper Th.3.C.1 (2012).
Sillard, P. et al. Low-DMGD 6-LP-Mode Fiber. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper M3F.2 (2014).
Mori, T., Sakamoto, T., Wada, M., Yamamoto, T. & Yamamoto, F. Six-LP-mode transmission fiber with DMD of less than 70 ps/km over C+L band. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper M3F.3 (2014).
Grüner-Nielsen, L. et al. Few mode transmission fiber with low DGD, low mode coupling, and low loss. IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 30, 3693–3698 (2012).
Ryf, R. et al. 32-bit/s/Hz spectral efficiency WDM transmission over 177-km few-mode fiber. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper PDP5A.1 (2013).
Van Uden, R. G. H., Okonkwo, C. M., Sleiffer, V. A. J. M., de Waardt, H. & Koonen, A. M. J. MIMO equalization with adaptive step size for few-mode fiber transmission. Opt. Express 22, 119–126 (2014).
Qian, D. et al. 1.05Pb/s Transmission with 109b/s/Hz spectral efficiency using hybrid single- and few-mode cores. 96th Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO), paper FW6C.3 (2012).
Xia, C. et al. Hole-assisted few-mode multicore fiber for high-density space-division multiplexing. IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 24, 1914–1917 (2012).
Saitoh, K., Matsui, T., Sakamoto, T., Koshiba, M. & Tomita, S. Multicore hole-assisted fibers for high core density space division multiplexing. Proceedings of 15th OptoElectronics and Communications Conference (OECC), 164–165 (2010).
Jung, Y. et al. Multimode EDFA performance in mode-division multiplexed transmission systems. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper JW2A.24 (2013).
Kang, Q. et al. Design of four-mode erbium doped fiber amplifier with low differential modal gain for modal division multiplexed transmissions. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper OTu3G.3 (2013).
Fontaine, N. K., Ryf, R., Guan, B., Neilson, D. T. Wavelength blocker for few-mode fiber space division multiplexed systems. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper OTh1B.1 (2013).
Ryf, R. et al. Wavelength-selective switch for few-mode fiber transmission. European Conference on Optical Communications, paper PD1C.4 (2013).
Sleiffer, V. A. J. M. et al. Mode-division-multiplexed 3 × 112-Gb/s DP-QPSK transmission over 80 km few-mode fiber with inline MM-EDFA and Blind DSP. 38th European Conference and Exhibition of Optical Communication, paper Tu.1.C.2 (2012).
Randel, S. et al. 6 × 56-Gb/s mode-division multiplexed transmission over 33-km few-mode fiber enabled by 6 × 6 MIMO equalization. Opt. Express 19, 16697–16707 (2011).
Ryf, R. et al. Mode division multiplexing over 96 km of few-mode fiber using coherent 6 × 6 MIMO processing. IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 30, 512–531 (2012).
Ip, E. et al. 146λ × 6 × 19-Gbaud wavelength- and mode-division multiplexed transmission over 10 × 50-km spans of few-mode fiber with a gain-equalized few-mode EDFA. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper PDP5A.2 (2013).
Sleiffer, V. A. J. M. et al. 73.7Tb/s (96 × 3 × 256-Gb/s) mode-division-multiplexed DP-16 QAM transmission with inline MM-EDFA. Opt. Express 20, B428–B438 (2012).
Chen, H. et al. Employing prism-based three-spot mode couplers for high capacity MDM/WDM transmission. IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 25, 2474–2477 (2013).
Chen, H. et al. Employing an integrated mode multiplexer on silicon-on-insulator for few-mode fiber transmission. European Conference on Optical Communications, paper Tu.1.B.4 (2013).
Chen, H. et al. 3 MDM × 8 WDM × 320 Gb/s DP 32 QAM transmission over a 120 km few-mode fiber span employing 3-spot mode couplers. 18th OptoElectronics and Communications Conference (OECC), paper PD3-6-1 (2013).
Ryf, R., Fontaine, N. K. & Essiambre, R.-J. Spot-based mode couplers for mode-multiplexed transmission in few-mode fiber. IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 24, 1973–1976 (2012).
Yerolatsitis, S. & Birks, T. A. Three-mode multiplexer in photonic crystal fibre. European Conference on Optical Communications, paper MO.4.A.4 (2013).
Leon-Saval, S. G., Argyros, A. & Bland-Hawthorn, J. Photonic lanterns: a study of light propagation in multimode to single mode converters. Opt. Express 18, 8430–8439 (2010).
Leon-Saval, S. G. et al. Mode-selective photonic lanterns for space-division multiplexing. Opt. Express 22, 1034–1044 (2014).
Fontaine, N. K., Ryf, R., Bland-Hawthorn, J. & Leon-Saval, S. G. Geometric requirements for photonic lanterns in space division multiplexing. Opt. Express 20, 27123–27132 (2012).
Savory, S. J. Digital coherent optical receivers: algorithms and subsystems. IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 16, 1164–1179 (2010).
Kuschnerov, M. et al. DSP for coherent single-carrier receivers. IEEE J. Lightwave Technol. 27, 3614–3622 (2009).
Van Uden, R. G. H., Okonkwo, C. M., Chen, H., de Waardt, H. & Koonen, A. M. J. 28 Gbaud 32 QAM FMF transmission with low complexity phase estimators and single DPLL. IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 26, 765–768 (2014).
Randel, S., Winzer, P. J., Montoliu, M. & Ryf, R. Complexity analysis of adaptive frequency-domain equalization for MIMO-SDM transmission. 39th European Conference and Exhibition of Optical Communication, paper Th.2.C.4 (2013).
Leibrich, J. & Rosenkranz, W. Frequency domain equalization with minimum complexity in coherent optical transmission systems. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper OWV1 (2010).
Winzer, P. J. & Foschini, G. J. MIMO capacities and outage probabilities in spatially multiplexed optical transport systems. Opt. Express 19, 16680–16696 (2011).
Van Uden, R. G. H., Okonkwo, C. M., Sleiffer, V. A. J. M., de Waardt, H. & Koonen, A. M. J. Performance comparison of CSI estimation techniques for FMF transmission systems. IEEE Photonics Society Summer Topical Meeting Series, paper WC4.2 (2013).
Benvenuto, N. & Cherubini, G. Algorithms for Communications Systems and their Applications (Wiley, 2002).
Essiambre, R.-J. et al. Inter-modal nonlinear interactions between well separated channels in spatially-multiplexed fiber transmission. 38th European Conference and Exhibition of Optical Communication, paper Tu.1.C.4 (2012).
Song, K. Y. & Kim, Y. H. Measurement of intramodal and intermodal Brillouin gain spectra in a few-mode fiber. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper W3D.6 (2014).
Xiao, Y., Mumtaz, S., Essiambre, R.-J. & Agrawal, G. P. Effect of random linear mode coupling on intermodal four-wave mixing in few-mode fibers. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper M3F.5 (2014).
Hayashi, T., Nakanishi, T., Sasaki, T., Saitoh, K. & Koshiba, M. Dependence of crosstalk increase due to tight bend on core layout of multi-core fiber. Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), paper W4D.4 (2014).
The authors acknowledge partial funding from the European Union Framework 7 MODEGAP project (grant agreement no. 258033). This research was also partially supported by the National Basic Research Programme of China (973; project #2014CB340100). C.M.O. acknowledges funding from the South Korean IT R&D programme of MKE/KIAT (2010-TD-200408-001). E.A.L. acknowledges the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT). The authors thank A. Amezcua Correa and P. Sillard of Prysmian Group and N. Psaila of Optoscribe for discussions.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
van Uden, R., Correa, R., Lopez, E. et al. Ultra-high-density spatial division multiplexing with a few-mode multicore fibre. Nature Photon 8, 865–870 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2014.243
This article is cited by
Handling mode and polarization in fiber by fs-laser inscribed (de)multiplexer and silicon switch array
Analysis of wavelength sensitivity of coupling coefficients and inter-core crosstalk in a 9 core fiber
Journal of Optics (2023)
Light: Science & Applications (2022)
High-capacity free-space optical communications using wavelength- and mode-division-multiplexing in the mid-infrared region
Nature Communications (2022)
Nature Communications (2022)