Project

Optical Communications using Structured Light

Goal: Increase the capacity and robustness of free space optical communications.

Updates
0 new
0
Recommendations
0 new
0
Followers
0 new
94
Reads
0 new
687

Project log

Mitchell Arij Cox
added 2 research items
Nearly three decades since its discovery, orbital angular momentum (OAM) has proven to be highly versatile for a wide range of applications. It is an indispensable tool in quantum optics, has made a significant impact in optical tweezing, enabled higher contrast and more detailed imaging, and offers a convenient way to harness the space degree of freedom in telecommunications. In this paper, we present a review of a wide range of applications of OAM as well as describing the creation and detection of OAM modes, with a focus on the use of OAM in communications. In addition, we detail various similar higher-order optical modes, such as vector vortex modes, and provide an introduction to the use of OAM in quantum optics, pitched for readers new to the field.
Orbital angular momentum (OAM) modes are topical due to their versatility, and they have been used in several applications including free-space optical communication systems. The classification of OAM modes is a common requirement, and there are several methods available for this. One such method makes use of deep learning, specifically convolutional neural networks, which distinguishes between modes using their intensities. However, OAM mode intensities are very similar if they have the same radius or if they have opposite topological charges, and as such, intensity-only approaches cannot be used exclusively for individual modes. Since the phase of each OAM mode is unique, deep learning can be used in conjugation with interferometry to distinguish between different modes. In this paper, we demonstrate a very high classification accuracy of a range of OAM modes in turbulence using a shear interferometer, which crucially removes the requirement of a reference beam. For comparison, we show only marginally higher accuracy with a more conventional Mach-Zehnder interferometer, making the technique a promising candidate towards real-time, low-cost modal decomposition in turbulence.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a research item
Free-space-optics-based communication links are an attractive potential solution for solving the last mile challenge but suffer from turbulence-induced fading. This fading causes errors in the received signal. While models exist to predict how turbulence affects the signal, these models often do not account for the channel's memory. Typical fading models accurately predict the average effect of the channel on a signal but not the distribution of the errors and the individual lengths of events such as deep fades. To better model the channel, this paper presents an alternative approach: Fritchman Markov modeling. The models produced accurately match the behavior of the channel and can be used to develop robust and efficient error mitigation strategies in the future.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a research item
Digital micro-mirror devices (DMDs) are a popular alternative to liquid crystal spatial light modulators for laser beam shaping due to their relatively low cost, high speed, and polarization and wavelength independence. Here we describe in detail how to convert a low-cost digital light projector (DLP) evaluation module that uses a Texas Instruments DLP4710 DMD into a spatial light modulator using a 3D printed mount. The resulting device is shown to accurately shape Laguerre–Gauss modes, is able to operate in real-time over HDMI without modification with a 180 Hz hologram refresh rate, and has a resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels and diagonal screen size of 0.47 inches (11.9 mm).
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a research item
Optical communication is an integral part of the modern economy, having all but replaced electronic communication systems. Future growth in bandwidth appears to be on the horizon using structured light, encoding information into the spatial modes of light, and transmitting them down fibre and free-space, the latter crucial for addressing last mile and digitally disconnected communities. Unfortunately, patterns of light are easily distorted, and in the case of free-space optical communication, turbulence is a significant barrier. Here we review recent progress in structured light in turbulence, first with a tutorial style summary of the core concepts, before highlighting the present state-of-the-art in the field. We support our review with new experimental studies that reveal which types of structured light are best in turbulence, the behaviour of vector versus scalar light in turbulence, the trade-off of diversity and multiplexing, and how turbulence models can be exploited for enhanced optical signal processing protocols. This comprehensive treatise will be invaluable to the large communities interested in free-space optical communication with spatial modes of light.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added 2 research items
A quantitative analysis of optical fields is essential, particularly when the light is structured in some desired manner, or when there is perhaps an undesired structure that must be corrected for. A ubiquitous procedure in the optical community is that of optical mode projections—a modal analysis of light—for the unveiling of amplitude and phase information of a light field. When correctly performed, all the salient features of the field can be deduced with high fidelity, including its orbital angular momentum, vectorial properties, wavefront, and Poynting vector. Here,we present a practical tutorial on how to perform an efficient and effective optical modal decomposition, with emphasis on holographic approaches using spatial light modulators, highlighting the care required at each step of the process.
Vector vortex beams are structured states of light that are non-separable in their polarisation and spatial mode, they are eigenmodes of free-space and many fibre systems, and have the capacity to be used as a modal basis for both classical and quantum communication. Here we outline recent progress in our understanding of these modes, from their creation to their characterization and detection. We then use these tools to study the propagation behaviour of such modes in free-space and optical fibre and show that modal cross-talk results in a decay of vector states into separable scalar modes, with a concomitant loss of information. We present a comparison between probabilistic and deterministic detection schemes showing that the former, while ubiquitous, negates the very benefit of increased dimensionality in quantum communication while reducing signal in classical communication links. This work provides a useful introduction to the field as well as presenting new findings and perspectives to advance it further.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a research item
With the ever-increasing demand for data and radio frequency spectrum becoming congested, Free Space Optical (FSO) communication may find a niche for situations where fiber is too expensive or too difficult to install. FSO is a cross-disciplinary field that draws from radio and fiber communication, astronomy, and even quantum optics, and it has seen major advances over the last three decades. In this tutorial-style review, we provide a broad overview of many of the important topics required to design, develop, and research the next generation of FSO technology.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a research item
Optical communication is an integral part of the modern economy, having all but replaced electronic communication systems. Future growth in bandwidth appears to be on the horizon using structured light, encoding information into the spatial modes of light, and transmitting them down fibre and free-space, the latter crucial for addressing last mile and digitally disconnected communities. Unfortunately, patterns of light are easily distorted, and in the case of free-space optical communication, turbulence is a significant barrier. Here we review recent progress in structured light in turbulence, first with a tutorial style summary of the core concepts, before highlighting the present state-of-the-art in the field. We support our review with new experimental studies that reveal which types of structured light are best in turbulence, the behaviour of vector versus scalar light in turbulence, the trade-off of diversity and multiplexing, and how turbulence models can be exploited for enhanced optical signal processing protocols. This comprehensive treatise will be invaluable to the large communities interested in free-space optical communication with spatial modes of light.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a research item
One of the major challenges for long range, high speed Free-Space Optical (FSO) communication is turbulence induced beam wander. Beam wander causes fluctuations in the received intensity as well as crosstalk in mode division multiplexed systems. Existing models for beam wander make use of probability distributions and long term averages and are not able to accurately model time-dependent intensity fluctuations such as deep fading, where the received intensity is too low to maintain reliable communication for an extended period of time. In this work we present an elegant new memory model which models the behaviour of beam wander induced intensity fluctuations with the unique capability to accurately simulate deep fading. This is invaluable for the development of optimised error correction coding and digital signal processing in order to improve the throughput and reliability of FSO systems.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a research item
Free-Space Optical (FSO) systems offer the ability to distribute high speed digital links into remote and rural communities where terrain, installation cost or infrastructure security pose critical hurdles to deployment. A challenge in any point-to-point FSO system is initiating and maintaining optical alignment from the sender to the receiver. In this paper we propose and demonstrate a low-complexity self-aligning FSO prototype that can completely self-align with no requirement for initial manual positioning and could therefore form the opto-mechanical basis for a mesh network of optical transceivers. The prototype utilises off-the-shelf consumer electrical components and a bespoke alignment algorithm. We demonstrate an eight fibre spatially multiplexed link with a loss of 15 dB over 210 m.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added 2 research items
The wavefront measurement of a light beam is a complex task, which often requires a series of spatially resolved intensity measurements. For instance, a detector array may be used to measure the local phase gradient in the transverse plane of the unknown laser beam. In most cases, the resolution of the reconstructed wavefront is determined by the resolution of the detector, which in the infrared case is severely limited. In this paper, we employ a digital micro-mirror device (DMD) and a single-pixel detector (i.e., with no spatial resolution) to demonstrate the reconstruction of unknown wavefronts with excellent resolution. Our approach exploits modal decomposition of the incoming field by the DMD, enabling wavefront measurements at 4 kHz of both visible and infrared laser beams.
Vast geographical distances in Africa are a leading cause for the so-called “digital divide” due to the high cost of installing fibre. Free-Space Optical (FSO) communications offer a convenient and higher bandwidth alternative to point-to-point radio microwave links, with the possibility of re-purposing existing infrastructure. Unfortunately, the range of high bandwidth FSO remains limited. While there has been extensive research into an optimal mode set for FSO to achieve maximum data throughput by mode division multiplexing, there has been relatively little work investigating optical modes to improve the resilience of FSO links. Here we experimentally show that a carefully chosen subset of Hermite-Gaussian modes is more resilient to atmospheric turbulence than similar Laguerre-Gauss beams, with a predicted upper bound increase in propagation distance of 167% at a mode dependent loss of 50%.
Ling Cheng
added 2 research items
The wavefront measurement of a light beam is a complex task, which often requires a series of spatially resolved intensity measurements. For instance, a detector array may be used to measure the local phase gradient in the transverse plane of the unknown laser beam. In most cases the resolution of the reconstructed wavefront is determined by the resolution of the detector, which in the infrared case is severely limited. Here we employ a Digital Micro-mirror Device (DMD) and a single-pixel detector (i.e. with no spatial resolution) to demonstrate the reconstruction of unknown wavefronts with excellent resolution. Our approach exploits modal decomposition of the incoming field by the DMD, enabling wavefront measurements at 4~kHz of both visible and infrared laser beams.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a research item
Vast geographical distances in Africa are a leading cause for the so-called "digital divide" due to the high cost of installing fibre. Free-Space Optical (FSO) communications offer a convenient and higher bandwidth alternative to point-to-point radio microwave links, with the possibility of re-purposing existing infrastructure. Unfortunately, the range of high bandwidth FSO remains limited. While there has been extensive research into an optimal mode set for FSO to achieve maximum data throughput by mode division multiplexing, there has been relatively little work investigating optical modes to improve the resilience of FSO links. Here we experimentally show that a carefully chosen subset of Hermite-Gaussian modes is more resilient to atmospheric turbulence than similar Laguerre-Gauss beams, theoretically resulting in a 167% theoretical increase of propagation distance at a mode dependent loss of 50%.
Ling Cheng
added 2 research items
Free-space communication links are severely affected by atmospheric turbulence, which causes degradation in the transmitted signal. One of the most common solutions to overcome this is to exploit diversity. In this approach, information is sent in parallel using two or more transmitters that are spatially separated, with each beam therefore experiencing different atmospheric turbulence, lowering the probability of a receive error. In this work we propose and experimentally demonstrate a generalization of diversity based on spatial modes of light, which we have termed $\textit{modal diversity}$. We remove the need for a physical separation of the transmitters by exploiting the fact that spatial modes of light experience different perturbations, even when travelling along the same path. For this proof-of-principle we selected modes from the Hermite-Gaussian and Laguerre-Gaussian basis sets and demonstrate an improvement in Bit Error Rate by up to 54\%. We outline that modal diversity enables physically compact and longer distance free space optical links without increasing the total transmit power.
South Africa has one of the highest inequality factors in the world, reflecting its developed and developing nature. As such it suffers from the traditional “digital divide”, with low internet connectivity reach in rural areas, which is both economic and geographic in nature. In this talk we will summarize recent proposals to bridge the digital divide and offer a South African perspective on the problem. We will cover active research in South Africa on the topic and speculate what the network future in Africa might be.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a research item
Innovations in ‘sustainable’ photonics technologies such as free-space optical links and solar-powered equipment provide developing countries with new cost-effective opportunities for deploying future-proof telecommunication networks.
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a project reference
Mitchell Arij Cox
added a project goal
Increase the capacity and robustness of free space optical communications.