The effects of random imperfections in the lattice of a photonic crystal fiber on the propagation of the fundamental mode are analyzed using numerical simulations based on the multipole method. Lattice irregularities are shown to induce significant birefringence in fibers with large air holes but to cause a negligible increase in the confinement loss for low loss fibers. The dispersion is shown to be robust if the percentage of variation in the fiber parameters is less than 2% and the structure does not fall within a cutoff region. The coupling behavior in two-core structures with large air holes demonstrates high sensitivity to fiber nonuniformities. Understanding the discrepancies between the properties of simulated and fabricated fibers is an important step in leveraging the unique properties of PCFs.
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