Polarization mode dispersion (PMD) is caused by noncircular fiber cores and poses a serious threat for transmitting 10-Gb/s optical signals over older fibers and 40-Gb/s optical signals over any type of fiber. We study the architecture of a PMD compensator (PMDC) capable of 40-Gb/s operation in <i>X</i> -cut <i>Y</i>-propagation lithium niobate (LiNbO<sub>3</sub>) based on cascaded integrated optical TE–TM mode converters with endlessly adjustable coupling phases and propose several improvements in its architecture to tailor its performance toward highest bit rates. The performance of such distributed PMDCs can be pushed toward highest bit rates of 160 and 640 Gb/s if they are implemented in mixed ferroelectric crystals such as lithium niobate tantalate (LiNb<sub>1−y</sub>Ta<sub>y</sub>O<sub>3</sub>) or lithium tantalate LiTaO<sub>3</sub> crystals, respectively. A tantalum (Ta) content <i>Y</i> of up to 0.5 is good to realize a distributed PMDC for about 160-Gb/s operation. Two- and three-phase TE–TM mode converters for integrated optical PMD compensation are compared, and the latter are found to have slightly better electrooptic efficiency. For <i>Z</i>-cut lithium tantalate, four-phase electrodes which need only two independent operation voltages are found to be more attractive.
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