Conventional large-core multimode fibers (MMFs) are preferred for use in short to medium haul optical fiber links, owing to their tolerance to misalignment and low deployment costs; however, data rates through MMFs are limited by modal dispersion. Digital signal processing with multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) techniques has offered promising solutions to overcome the dispersion limitations of MMFs, but the impact of the geometry of laser and detector arrays on the achievable data rate is not established. To this end, we use a field-propagation-based model to gauge the impact the geometry of lasers and detectors can have on the achievable ergodic and outage rates of incoherent MIMO-MMF links. Laser and detector array geometries were investigated using a grid-based method to optimize the positions of lasers and detectors for a 1 km MIMO-MMF link. Simulations reveal that systems with appropriately designed laser/detector geometries could improve the achievable rate over the fiber by more than 200% over random laser/detector arrays. The grid-based search technique, however, is limited due to high computational requirements for fine grids. As an alternative, we developed a suboptimal “greedy” selection approach to design detector geometries, which produces detector geometries that attain more than 90% of the rate obtained with an exhaustive search, while requiring less than 0.2% of the computation. The low computation requirements and high performance of the greedy selection approach also motivate the use of dynamically reconfigurable detector arrays to achieve high data rates with reduced signal processing complexity. Methods are also presented for clustering detector elements to obtain more consolidated segmented detectors with better fill factors, while still offering significant data rate benefits. The achievable ergodic rate using these systems is verified to be close to the link’s ergodic capacity.
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