Polarization mode dispersion (PMD) limits optical fiber capacity. PMD compensators usually minimize the associated eye closure. This measure scales with the square of the differential group delay (DGD) and makes it difficult to detect low DGDs. However, light with a low-speed polarization modulation suffers arrival time variations, in the presence of PMD, that are proportional to the DGD. These are detected by integrating the voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO) input signal of the clock recovery phase-locked loop (PLL). This novel method has been demonstrated for 40 Gb/s nonreturn-to-zero (NRZ) and for 2 x 40 Gb/s return-to-zero (RZ) polarization division multiplex transmission. PMD detection sensitivities range between 2 ps and 84 fs.
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