Abstract

Multi-input multi-output (MIMO) digital signal processing (DSP) for mode-division multiplexing (MDM) may have high complexity, owing to a plurality of modes and a potentially long group delay (GD) spread in multimode fiber (MMF). This paper addresses the management of GD in MMF and its implications for the complexity and performance of MIMO DSP. First, we review the generalized Jones and Stokes representations for modeling propagation in MMF, and describe key GD properties derived using the two representations. Then, we describe three approaches for GD management: 1) optimized fiber design, 2) mode coupling, and 3) GD compensation. For approach 1), we explain design principles for minimizing the GD spread. We review experimental results to date, showing that fabrication nonidealities significantly increase the GD spread, and this approach alone may not achieve sufficiently low GD spread. For approach 2), we describe mechanisms for inducing intragroup and intergroup coupling. We describe mode scrambler designs based on photonic lanterns or long-period fiber gratings, both of which can ensure strong intergroup coupling. For approach 3), we review GD-compensated system design principles and show that GD compensation is only partially effective in the presence of random intragroup or intergroup coupling. Finally, we provide an overview of adaptive MIMO frequency-domain equalization algorithms. Considering tradeoffs between complexity, performance, and adaptation time, we show that the GD spread is a key factor determining the feasibility of MIMO DSP, and its feasibility requires judicious GD management.

© 2016 IEEE

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