We report on experimental demonstration of a digital coherent detection link fully based on vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) for the transmitter as well as for the local oscillator light source at the receiver side. We demonstrate operation at 5 Gbps at a 1550 nm wavelength with record receiver sensitivity of -36 dBm after transmission over 40 km standard single mode fiber. Digital signal processing compensates for frequency offset between the transmitter and the local oscillator VCSELs, and for chromatic dispersion. This system allows for uncooled VCSEL operation and fully passive fiber transmission with no use of optical amplification or optical dispersion compensation. The proposed system demonstrates the potential of multi-gigabit coherent passive optical networks with extended reach and increased capacity. Moreover, this is, to the best of our knowledge, the first demonstration of coherent optical transmission systems using a low-cost VCSEL as the local oscillator as well as for the transmitter.
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