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Light Sources – II The Laser and External Modulation

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1 Light Sources – II The Laser and External Modulation
Optical Communication Systems -Xavier Fernando

2 The LASER Light Amplification by ‘Stimulated Emission’ and Radiation
Laser is an optical oscillator. It comprises a resonant optical amplifier whose output is fed back into its input with matching phase. Any oscillator contains: 1- An amplifier with a gain-saturated mechanism 2- A positive feedback system 3- A frequency selection mechanism 4- An output coupling scheme

3 LASER In laser, the amplifier is the pumped active medium (biased semiconductor region). Feedback can be obtained by placing the active medium in an optical resonator, such as Fabry-Perot structure. Frequency selection is achieved by the resonators, which admits only certain modes. Output coupling is accomplished by making one of the resonator mirrors partially transmitting.

4 Fundamental Lasing Operation
Absorption: An atom in the ground state might absorb a photon emitted by another atom, thus making a transition to an excited state. Spontaneous Emission: random emission of a photon, which enables the atom to relax to the ground state. Stimulated Emission: An atom in an excited state might be stimulated to emit a photon by another incident photon.

5 Stimulated Emission

6 In Stimulated Emission incident and stimulated photons will have
Attribute Result Identical Energy Narrow line width Identical Direction Narrow beam width Identical Phase Temporal Coherence Identical Polarization Coherently polarized light

7 Lasing in a pumped active medium
In thermal equilibrium the stimulated emission is essentially negligible, since the density of electrons in the excited state is very small, and optical emission is mainly because of the spontaneous emission. Stimulated emission will exceed absorption only if the population of the excited states is greater than that of the ground state. This condition is known as Population Inversion. Population inversion is achieved by various pumping techniques. In a semiconductor laser, population inversion is accomplished by injecting electrons into the material to fill the lower energy states of the conduction band.


9 Fabry-Perot Laser (resonator) cavity

10 Fabry-Perot Resonator
[4-18] R: reflectance of the optical intensity, k: optical wavenumber

11 Fabry-Perot Lasing Cavity
A Fabry-Perot cavity consists of two flat, partially reflecting mirrors that establish a strong longitudinal optical oscillator feedback mechanism, thereby creating a light-emitting function. The distance between the adjacent peaks of the resonant wavelengths in a Fabry-Perot cavity is the modal separation. If L is the distance between the reflecting mirrors & the refractive index is n, then at a peak wavelength λ the MS is given by

12 How a Laser Works

13 Laser Diode Characteristics
Nanosecond & even picosecond response time (GHz BW) Spectral width of the order of nm or less High output power (tens of mW) Narrow beam (good coupling to single mode fibers) Laser diodes have three distinct radiation modes namely, longitudinal, lateral and transverse modes. In laser diodes, end mirrors provide strong optical feedback in longitudinal direction, so by roughening the edges and cleaving the facets, the radiation can be achieved in longitudinal direction rather than lateral direction.

14 Laser Operation & Lasing Condition
To determine the lasing condition and resonant frequencies, we should focus on the optical wave propagation along the longitudinal direction, z-axis. The optical field intensity, I, can be written as: Lasing is the condition at which light amplification becomes possible by virtue of population inversion. Then, stimulated emission rate into a given EM mode is proportional to the intensity of the optical radiation in that mode. In this case, the loss and gain of the optical field in the optical path determine the lasing condition. The radiation intensity of a photon at energy varies exponentially with a distance z amplified by factor g, and attenuated by factor according to the following relationship:

15 [4-20] Z=0 Z=L [4-21] Lasing Conditions: [4-22]

16 Threshold gain & current density
For laser structure with strong carrier confinement, the threshold current Density for stimulated emission can be well approximated by:

17 Laser Resonant Frequencies
Lasing condition, namely eq. [4-22]: Assuming the resonant frequency of the mth mode is:

18 Spectrum from a laser Diode

19 Semiconductor laser rate equations
Rate equations relate the optical output power, or # of photons per unit volume, , to the diode drive current or # of injected electrons per unit volume, n. For active (carrier confinement) region of depth d, the rate equations are:

20 Threshold current Density & excess electron density
At the threshold of lasing: The threshold current needed to maintain a steady state threshold concentration of the excess electron, is found from electron rate equation under steady state condition dn/dt=0 when the laser is just about to lase:

21 Laser operation beyond the threshold
The solution of the rate equations [4-25] gives the steady state photon density, resulting from stimulated emission and spontaneous emission as follows:

22 External quantum efficiency
Number of photons emitted per radiative electron-hole pair recombination above threshold, gives us the external quantum efficiency. Note that:

23 Laser P-I Characteristics (Static)
External Efficiency Depends on the slope Threshold Current

24 Laser Optical Output vs. Drive Current
Relationship between optical output and laser diode drive current. Below the lasing threshold the optical output is a spontaneous LED-type emission. Slope efficiency = dP/dI The laser efficiency changes with temperature: 20° C 30° C 40° C Optical output 50° C Efficiency decreases

25 Modulation of Optical Sources
Optical sources can be modulated either directly or externally. Direct modulation is done by modulating the driving current according to the message signal (digital or analog) In external modulation, the laser is emits continuous wave (CW) light and the modulation is done in the fiber

26 Why Modulation A communication link is established by transmission of information reliably Optical modulation is embedding the information on the optical carrier for this purpose The information can be digital (1,0) or analog (a continuous waveform) The bit error rate (BER) is the performance measure in digital systems The signal to noise ratio (SNR) is the performance measure in analog systems

27 Direct Modulation The message signal (ac) is superimposed on the bias current (dc) which modulates the laser Robust and simple, hence widely used Issues: laser resonance frequency, chirp, turn on delay, clipping and laser nonlinearity

28 Light Source Linearity
In an analog system, a time-varying electric analog signal modulates an optical source directly about a bias current IB. With no signal input, the optical power output is Pt. When an analog signal s(t) is applied, the time-varying (analog) optical output is: P(t) = Pt[1 + m s(t)], where m = modulation index For LEDs IB’ = IB For laser diodes IB’ = IB – Ith Laser diode LED

29 Modulation of Laser Diodes
Internal Modulation: Simple but suffers from non-linear effects. External Modulation: for rates greater than 2 Gb/s, more complex, higher performance. Most fundamental limit for the modulation rate is set by the photon life time in the laser cavity: Another fundamental limit on modulation frequency is the relaxation oscillation frequency given by:

30 Laser Digital Modulation
Optical Power (P) P(t) t Ith I1 I2 Current (I) I(t) t

31 Input current Electron density Output optical power Assume step input
steadily increases until threshold value is reached Output optical power Starts to increase only after the electrons reach the threshold I1 Turn on Delay (td) Resonance Freq. (fr)

32 Turn on Delay (lasers) When the driving current suddenly jumps from low (I1 < Ith) to high (I2 > Ith) , (step input), there is a finite time before the laser will turn on This delay limits bit rate in digital systems Can you think of any solution?

33 Relaxation Oscillation
For data rates of less than approximately 10 Gb/s (typically 2.5 Gb/s), the process of imposing information on a laser-emitted light stream can be realized by direct modulation. The modulation frequency can be no larger than the frequency of the relaxation oscillations of the laser field The relaxation oscillation occurs at approximately

34 The Modulated Spectrum
Twice the RF frequency Two sidebands each separated by modulating frequency

35 Limitations of Direct Modulation
Turn on delay and resonance frequency are the two major factors that limit the speed of digital laser modulation Saturation and clipping introduces nonlinear distortion with analog modulation (especially in multi carrier systems) Nonlinear distortions introduce higher order inter modulation distortions (IMD3, IMD5…) Chirp: Laser output wavelength drift with modulating current is also another issue

36 Laser Noise Modal (speckel) Noise: Fluctuations in the distribution of energy among various modes. Mode partition Noise: Intensity fluctuations in the longitudinal modes of a laser diode, main source of noise in single mode fiber systems. Reflection Noise: Light output gets reflected back from the fiber joints into the laser, couples with lasing modes, changing their phase, and generate noise peaks. Isolators & index matching fluids can eliminate these reflections.

37 Temperature Dependency

38 External Modulation When direct modulation is used in a laser transmitter, the process of turning the laser on and off with an electrical drive current produces a widening of the laser linewidth referred to as chirp The optical source injects a constant-amplitude light signal into an external modulator. The electrical driving signal changes the optical power that exits the external modulator. This produces a time-varying optical signal. The electro-optical (EO) phase modulator (also called a Mach-Zehnder Modulator or MZM) typically is made of LiNbO3.

39 Mach-Zehnder Principle

40 External Modulated Spectrum
Typical spectrum is double side band However, single side band is possible which is useful at extreme RF frequencies

41 Traveling Wave Phase Modulator
Much wideband operation is possible due to the traveling wave tube arrangement (better impedance matching)

42 Distributed Feedback Laser (Single Mode Laser)
The optical feedback is provided by fiber Bragg Gratings  Only one wavelength get positive feedback

43 Fiber Bragg Grating This an optical notch band reject filter

44 DFB Output Spectrum

45 Nonlinearity x(t) Nonlinear function y=f(x) y(t)
Nth order harmonic distortion:

46 Intermodulation Distortion
Harmonics: Intermodulated Terms:

47 Transmitter Packages There are a variety of transmitter packages for different applications. One popular transmitter configuration is the butterfly package. This device has an attached fiber fly lead and components such as the diode laser, a monitoring photodiode, and a thermoelectric cooler.

48 Transmitter Packages Three standard fiber optic transceiver packages

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