Multi-core fiber (MCF) has been one of the main innovations in fiber optics in the last decade. Reported work on MCF has been focused on increasing the transmission capacity of optical communication links by exploiting space-division multiplexing. Additionally, MCF presents a strong potential in optical beamforming networks. The use of MCF can increase the compactness of the broadband antenna array controller. This is of utmost importance in platforms where size and weight are critical parameters such as communications satellites and airplanes. Here, an optical beamforming architecture that exploits the space-division capacity of MCF to implement compact optical beamforming networks is proposed, being a new application field for MCF. The experimental demonstration of this system using a 4-core MCF that controls a four-element antenna array is reported. An analysis of the impact of MCF on the performance of antenna arrays is presented. The analysis indicates that the main limitation comes from the relatively high insertion loss in the MCF fan-in and fan-out devices, which leads to angle dependent losses which can be mitigated by using fixed optical attenuators or a photonic lantern to reduce MCF insertion loss. The crosstalk requirements are also experimentally evaluated for the proposed MCF-based architecture. The potential signal impairment in the beamforming network is analytically evaluated, being of special importance when MCF with a large number of cores is considered. Finally, the optimization of the proposed MCF-based beamforming network is addressed targeting the scalability to large arrays.
Airat Zainullin, Borja Vidal, Andres Macho , and Roberto Llorente , "Multicore fiber beamforming network for broadband satellite communications," Proc. SPIE 10103, Terahertz, RF, Millimeter, and Submillimeter-Wave Technology and Applications X, 1010310 (Presented at SPIE OPTO: February 01, 2017; Published: 24 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2250821.
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