Chinese Optics Letters, Volume. 19, Issue 9, 091301(2021)

Mode division multiplexing: from photonic integration to optical fiber transmission [Invited] On the Cover

Jiangbing Du*, Weihong Shen, Jiacheng Liu, Yufeng Chen, Xinyi Chen, and Zuyuan He**
Author Affiliations
  • State Key Laboratory of Advanced Optical Communication Systems and Networks, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China
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    To overcome the capacity crunch of optical communications based on the traditional single-mode fiber (SMF), different modes in a few-mode fiber (FMF) can be employed for mode division multiplexing (MDM). MDM can also be extended to photonic integration for obtaining improved density and efficiency, as well as interconnection capacity. Therefore, MDM becomes the most promising method for maintaining the trend of “Moore’s law” in photonic integration and optical fiber transmission. In this tutorial, we provide a review of MDM works and cutting-edge progresses from photonic integration to optical fiber transmission, including our recent works of MDM low-noise amplification, FMF fiber design, MDM Si photonic devices, and so on. Research and application challenges of MDM for optical communications regarding long-haul transmission and short reach interconnection are discussed as well. The content is expected to be of important value for both academic researchers and industrial engineers during the development of next-generation optical communication systems, from photonic chips to fiber links.


    1. Introduction

    In a multimode optical waveguide, the light wave propagates in different paths, exhibiting different field distributions, so-called orthogonal modes. Optical field density can be significantly strengthened when multiple orthogonal modes are co-propagating in the same waveguide while maintaining acceptable or even improved performance of attenuation, dispersion, nonlinearity, signal quality, and so on. Such kinds of co-propagation of multiple orthogonal modes in one waveguide are called mode division multiplexing (MDM), which was first, to the best of our knowledge, brought up tens of years ago (as early as 1982[1]) and now is revived again due to the “Moore’s law” demand of optical communication capacity and photonic integration. “Moore’s law” in optical communication is even more serious than its original interpretation in microelectronics, no matter whether it is for photonic integration density or optical fiber transmission capacity.


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    Jiangbing Du, Weihong Shen, Jiacheng Liu, Yufeng Chen, Xinyi Chen, Zuyuan He. Mode division multiplexing: from photonic integration to optical fiber transmission [Invited][J]. Chinese Optics Letters, 2021, 19(9): 091301

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    Paper Information

    Category: Integrated Optics

    Received: Dec. 29, 2020

    Accepted: Feb. 26, 2021

    Published Online: Aug. 26, 2021

    The Author Email: Jiangbing Du (, Zuyuan He (



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