Adaptive Control of Waveguide Modes in Two-Mode Fibers

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Virginia Tech

Few mode fibers and multimode fibers (MMFs) are traditionally regarded as unsuitable for important applications such as communications and sensing. A major challenge in using MMFs for aforementioned applications is how to precisely control the waveguide modes propagating within MMFs. In this thesis, we experimentally demonstrate a generic method for controlling the linearly polarized (LP) modes within a two-mode fiber (TMF). Our method is based on adaptive optics (AO), where one utilizes proper feedback signals to shape the wavefront of the input beam in order to achieve the desired LP mode composition.

In the first part of this thesis, we demonstrate the feasibility of AO-based mode control by using the correlation between the experimentally measured field distribution and the desired mode profiles as feedback for wavefront optimization. Selectively excitation of pure LP modes or their combinations at the distal end of a TMF are shown. Furthermore, we demonstrate that selective mode excitation in the TMF can be achieved by using only 5×5 independent phase blocks.

Afterwards, we extend our AO-based mode control method to more practical scenarios, where feedback signals are provided by all-fiber devices such as a directional fiber coupler or fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs). Using the coupling ratio of a directional coupler as feedback, we demonstrate adaptive control of LP modes at the two output ports of the directional coupler. With feedback determined by the relative magnitude of optical power reflected by a FBG and the transmitted power, selective excitations of the LP01 and the LP11 modes are experimentally shown.

As the final component of this thesis, we experimentally combine the AO-based mode control with time-division-multiplexing. By choosing reflected pulses with appropriate arrival time for mode control, we can selectively excite the LP11 mode at different FBG locations within the TMF, based on the ratio of optical signals reflected by FBGs in the TMF and the transmitted signal. Using two lasers set at the two FBG peak reflection wavelengths associated with the LP01 and the LP11 modes, we can accomplish AO-based mode control within a TMF by using only the reflection signals from the FBG. By using the ratio of the reflected signals of two lasers as feedback, we demonstrate selective excitation of almost pure LP01 or LP11 mode at the FBG location within the TMF.

The method developed in this thesis is generic and can be extended to many other applications using appropriately chosen feedback signals. It is possible to generalize the AO-based mode control method to MMF as well. This method may find important applications in MMF-based communication, sensing and imaging et. al. in the future.

Adaptive optics, fiber optics, multimode fiber, mode control, mode division multiplexing, time division multiplexing, fiber Bragg gratings