Abstract

Spatial division multiplexing (SDM) holds out the prospects of increasing the capacities of optical fiber transmission links, especially with the recent achievements in the design of few-mode fibers and few-mode optical amplifiers. However, these systems are impaired by the capacity-limiting mode dependent loss (MDL) arising from imperfections in the optical fiber and inline components. Optical solutions were suggested to reduce, yet not completely remove, the accumulated MDL in the link through the use of strong coupling fibers and mode scramblers. Inspired by our previous study on mitigating polarization dependent loss (PDL), we present space-time (ST) coding schemes to mitigate MDL in mode-multiplexed optical transmission systems. We show, for the first time, that the combination of redundancy-free ST coding solutions with inline mode scrambling and optimal maximum-likelihood (ML) detection can completely absorb the SNR penalties induced by the MDL. The performance was assessed through simulations of three- and six-mode multiplexed systems where MDL levels up to 10 dB were observed. However, given the increased computational complexity of the suggested ML-decoded ST schemes, we present two reduced-complexity ST solutions offering a near-optimal performance. The first one consists in using a sub-optimal decoder and the second is a multiblock ST coding approach that can be scaled up for larger SDM systems.

© 2015 IEEE

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