Abstract

We explore the practical challenges that should be addressed when designing a multicore fiber coupler for nonlinear switching or mode-locking applications. The inevitable geometric imperfections formed in these fiber couplers during the fabrication process affect the performance characteristics of the nonlinear switching device. Fabrication uncertainties are tolerable as long as the changes they impose on the propagation constant of the modes are smaller than the linear coupling between the cores. It is possible to reduce the effect of the propagation constant variations by bringing the cores closer to each other, thereby increasing the coupling. However, higher coupling translates into a higher switching power, which may not be desirable in some practical situations. Therefore, fabrication errors limit the minimum achievable switching power in nonlinear couplers.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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