What are the Prospects and Challenges for Hollow-core Fibers in Optical Communications?


Rodrigo Amezcua-Correa, Univ. of Central Florida, CREOL, USA
Eric Numkam Fokoua, Univ. of Southampton, UK
Chigo Okonkwo, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Netherlands
Radan Slavik, Univ. of Southampton, UK


Unlike conventional optical fibers, hollow-core optical fibers confine and guide light in an air core. The advantages of guiding light in such a hollow core are many and quite compelling. Their combination of low chromatic dispersion and virtually no optical nonlinearity provides a unique operating regime for telecom applications over a wide range of transmission distances.  They can potentially achieve low-loss operation over hundreds of nanometers of bandwidth, and allow signals to propagate with one third lower latency in comparison to standard SMFs. 

After nearly two decades of intense research, hollow-core optical fiber (HCF) technology has recently started showing signs of fulfilling some of these prospects, with the latest results showing transmission losses as low as 0.22 dB/km and DWDM transmission over 2000 km distance in recirculating loop experiments. Over the past few years also, an important step has been the emergence of HCF-based field deployable cables and solutions in the commercial arena, with such cables now carrying live traffic. 

However, HCF manufacturing, cabling, and interfacing with conventional components is not as developed as for standard optical fibres, which are manufactured at incredible volume with high reliability, and low-cost to address the very cost-sensitive telecom/datacom market. 

Other potential applications of HCFs include sensing, high power laser delivery,  biosensing, frequency and time transfer and metrology, etc. However this workshop proposes to discuss whether there is genuine reason to be excited about the prospects of hollow-core fiber technology as a disruptive transmission medium for optical communications.

Topics to be addressed include :

•    What are the prospects of hollow-core fibers in telecoms and other applications?
•    What is the price/volume/performance sweet spot for applications of hollow-core fibers?
•    Which telecom applications are these fibers  best suited for? Which telecom sectors will be the first (or are there already any?)  and which will follow? 
•    What are the current challenges preempting widespread adoption of these fibers within telecoms?  
•    What challenges in design, manufacturing, cabling, interconnection and fiber components still have to be addressed? 
•    How will DSP be different with hollow-core fibers?


To be determined.