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Exceptional polarization purity in antiresonant hollow-core optical fibres

Abstract

High-performance interferometers, gyroscopes, frequency combs, quantum information experiments and optical clocks rely on the transmission of light beams with the highest possible spatial and polarization purity. Free-space propagation in vacuum unlocks the ultimate performance but becomes impractical at even modest length scales. Glass optical fibres offer a more pragmatic alternative, but degrade polarization purity and suffer from detrimental nonlinear effects. Hollow-core fibres have been heralded for years as the ideal compromise between the two, but achieving high modal purity in both spatial and polarization domains has proved elusive thus far. Here, we show that carefully designed, low-nonlinearity hollow-core antiresonant fibres can transmit a single pair of orthogonal polarization modes with cross-coupling on the scale of 1010 m1; that is, orders of magnitude lower than any other solution. This free-space-like optical guidance can immediately provide a leap in performance for photonics-enabled sensors and instruments.

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Fig. 1: Polarization mode coupling at 1,550 nm among solid- and hollow-core fibres.
Fig. 2: Broadband crossed-polarizer measurements in nodeless ARF1.
Fig. 3: Polarization properties of ARF1 over thermal excursion.
Fig. 4: Attenuation and polarization properties of NANF1.

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Data availability

The data included in this paper can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.5258/SOTON/D1183. Other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) through the project Lightpipe (grant agreement no. 682724) and was co-sponsored by Honeywell Aerospace Advanced Technology. We gratefully acknowledge insightful conversations with D. Payne at the University of Southampton and with G. Sanders and W. Williams from Honeywell. E.N.F and G.T.J. acknowledge support from the Royal Academy of Engineering through personal research fellowships.

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Contributions

G.T.J. and F.P. designed the fibres. J.R.H. and T.D.B. fabricated the fibres and measured their loss. A.T. designed and constructed the polarization test apparatus and software, and performed all fibre characterizations and data reduction. E.N.F. and S.A.M. developed the polarization modelling framework. F.P. contributed to the genesis of the idea with A.T. and provided overall technical leadership across all aspects of the research. F.P., E.N.F., A.T. and S.A.M. wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to F. Poletti.

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Supplementary Figs. 1–4, Discussion and Table 1.

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Taranta, A., Numkam Fokoua, E., Abokhamis Mousavi, S. et al. Exceptional polarization purity in antiresonant hollow-core optical fibres. Nat. Photonics 14, 504–510 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-020-0633-x

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