The first demonstration of a hollow core photonic bandgap fiber (HC-PBGF) suitable for high-rate data transmission in the 2 μm waveband is presented. The fiber has a record low loss for this wavelength region (4.5 dB/km at 1980 nm) and a >150 nm wide surface-mode-free transmission window at the center of the bandgap. Detailed analysis of the optical modes and their propagation along the fiber, carried out using a time-of-flight technique in conjunction with spatially and spectrally resolved (S) imaging, provides clear evidence that the HC-PBGF can be operated as quasi-single mode even though it supports up to four mode groups. Through the use of a custom built Thulium doped fiber amplifier with gain bandwidth closely matched to the fiber's low loss window, error-free 8 Gbit/s transmission in an optically amplified data channel at 2008 nm over 290 m of 19 cell HC-PBGF is reported.
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