We experimentally demonstrate that a graded-index plastic optical fiber (GI POF) can significantly reduce reflection noise in a multimode fiber link with a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL). By directly observing beams backreflected to the VCSEL, we show that the noise reduction effect is closely related to random mode coupling because of light scattering by microscopic heterogeneities in the GI POF core material. This suggests that intrinsic mode coupling can lower the self-coupling efficiency of the light backreflected to the VCSEL cavity through beam quality degradation. Using GI POFs, low-cost radio-over-fiber systems for indoor networks can be realized without optical isolators or fiber end-face polishing.
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