Maximizing the optical network capacity

P. Bayvel, R. Maher, Tianhua Xu, G. Liga, N.A. Shevchenko, D. Lavery, A. Alvarado, R.I. Killey

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Most of the digital data transmitted are carried by optical fibres, forming the great part of the national and international communication infrastructure. The information-carrying capacity of these networks has increased vastly over the past decades through the introduction of wavelength division multiplexing, advanced modulation formats, digital signal processing and improved optical fibre and amplifier technology. These developments sparked the communication revolution and the growth of the Internet, and have created an illusion of infinite capacity being available. But as the volume of data continues to increase, is there a limit to the capacity of an optical fibre communication channel? The optical fibre channel is nonlinear, and the intensity-dependent Kerr nonlinearity limit has been suggested as a fundamental limit to optical fibre capacity. Current research is focused on whether this is the case, and on linear and nonlinear techniques, both optical and electronic, to understand, unlock and maximize the capacity of optical communications in the nonlinear regime. This paper describes some of them and discusses future prospects for success in the quest for capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20140440
Number of pages24
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2062
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2016


  • electrical engineering
  • optics


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