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Optica Publishing Group
  • Journal of Lightwave Technology
  • Vol. 39,
  • Issue 13,
  • pp. 4367-4373
  • (2021)

High Spectral Efficiency Coherent Superchannel Transmission With Soliton Microcombs

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Spectral efficiency (SE) is one of the key metrics for optical communication networks. An important building block for its maximization are optical superchannels, channels that are composed of several subchannels with an aggregate bandwidth larger than the bandwidth of the detector electronics. Superchannels which are routed through the network as a single entity, together with flex-grid routing, allow to more efficiently utilize available bandwidth and eliminate the guard-bands between channels, thus increasing spectral efficiency. In contrast to traditional wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) channels, subchannel spacing and thus superchannel SE is governed by the linewidth and stability of the frequency spacing of the transmitter lasers. Integrated optical frequency combs, particulary the parametrically generated so-called microcombs, which provide optical lines on a fixed frequency grid are a promising solution for low power superchannel laser sources that allow to minimize the SE loss from suboptimal channel spacing. However, it is extremely challenging to realize microcombs with sufficient line power, coherence and line spacing that is compatible with electronic bandwidths. Because the line-spacing generated by most devices is above 40 GHz, demonstrations often rely on additional electro-optic frequency shifter or divider stages to avoid digital-to-analog-converter (DAC) performance degradation when operating at high symbol rates. Here we demonstrate a 52-line superchannel from a single 22 GHz line spacing soliton microcomb. We demonstrate 12 Tb/s throughput with $>\text{10}$ bits/s/Hz SE efficiency after 80 km transmission and 8 Tb/s throughput (SE $>\!\!6$ bits/s/Hz) after 2100 km, proving the feasibility and benefits of generating high signal quality, broadband waveforms directly from the output of a micro-scale device with a symbol rate close to the comb repetition rate.

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