MODE-GAP unveils first few-mode fiber amplifier

MODE-GAP, the European collaborative R&D project investigating space-division multiplexing (SDM) to increase the capacity of optical fibers by a factor of 100, has launched a few-mode fiber erbium-doped amplifier (FM-EDFA).

MODE-GAP, the European collaborative R&D project investigating space-division multiplexing (SDM) to increase the capacity of optical fibers by a factor of 100, has launched a few-mode fiber erbium-doped amplifier (FM-EDFA).

The new amplifier, developed for the transmission experiments for the project, is the first of its kind to be commercially available, the project partners claim. The amplifier is a vital component in such a system because it is more integrated, and thus more energy and cost-efficient than its traditional counterpart (see "The Fifth Dimension").

Developed by the University of Southampton, the new FM-EDFA will be manufactured by Phoenix Photonics. It is the first core-pumped amplifier to be made readily available to researchers investigating few-mode fiber (FMF) mode-division multiplexing (MDM) transmission and is available with compatibility with the OFS-designed three- and six-mode fibers.

Earlier this year the project demonstrated record long-haul reach using a FMF transmission link, which was enabled through the use of the Southampton FM-EDFAs.

"When the project was initiated in 2009 there were no components commercially available to build FMF transmission experiments. The required components were researched and demonstrated within the project and several of these have now been commercialized," said project manager Dr. Ian Giles.

The FM-EDFA has been a key component in achieving the excellent transmission results within the project, he notes. Developing the amplifier as an integrated instrument has been very challenging, but as a result of those efforts, Phoenix Photonics is now able to offer three-mode and six-mode versions with high-performance specifications, Giles says.

The FM-EDFA is the latest in a range of products that are now commercially available as a result of the project, including, FMF from OFS Fitel, photonic lanterns and fiber mode converters from Phoenix Photonics, and 2-micron lasers from Eblana Photonics.

The three-year MODE-GAP project has been supported within the European Commission's 7th Framework program.

For more information on high-speed transmission systems and suppliers, visit the Lightwave Buyer's Guide.

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