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EE 230: Optical Fiber Communication Lecture 7

Optical Amplifiers-the Basics

From the movie

Warriors of the Net

Amplifier Types and Applications

Amplifiers are used to overcome fiber loss
They are used in 4 basic applications:

In-line amplifiers for periodic power boosting

Power Amplifier to increase the power to

levels than possible from the source

Pre-amplifier to increase the received power


Distribution loss compensation in local area

or cable networks

Fiber Optics Communication Technology-Mynbaev & Scheiner

Characteristics of all amplifiers

They operate by creating a population
inversion, where there are more
individuals in a high energy state than in
a lower one
The incoming pulses of signal on the
fiber induce stimulated emission
They saturate above a certain signal
They add noise to the signal

Comparison of Real and Ideal


Inhomogeneous Gain Broadening

Inhomogeneous broadening
The individual atomic responses
within and inhomogeneously
broadened transition all add up to
yield the measured lineshape

A Gaussian inhomogeneously
broadened atomic lineshape such as
produced by doppler broadening in


Interaction of Atoms with Light

Rate Equations and Populations

Unstimulated Population densities in

2 level atom

Energy levels 1 and 2 and their decay times. By

means of pumping, the population density of
level 2 is increased at the rate R 2 while that of
level 1 is decreased at the rate R 1
For large N or No (also called inversion density)
We want 2 long, but 21 not too small, 1 and R1 large

Idealy 21~sp<<20 so 2~sp

Population densities with a strong

resonant signal

Ideal Amplifier System

Third excited state with very short lifetime,
no fluorescence

Second excited state with very long

lifetime and high cross section for
stimulated emission
Pump process
with large cross

Energy gap between first and

second excited states matches
telecommunication frequencies

First excited state with very short


Amplified Spontaneous Emission

Noise Figure Measurement

Fiber Optics Communication Technology-Mynbaev & Scheiner

Noise Figure
Noise Figure


A perfect amplifier would have a

Noise figure of 1 or 0 dB
Noise figure of an amplifier cascade
Fsystem = Fn1 +

Fn 2
+ n3 +..... +
G1 G1G2
G1G2G3...Gk- 1

For lowest overall noise figure you should put

the lowest noise amplifier first

3 main types and 3 Big Ideas

The main types of optical amplifiers are:
Semiconductor amplifiers (lasers that arent lasing)
Doped fiber amplifiers
Raman and Brillouin Amplifiers
The three big ideas
Gain and gain bandwidth
Gain saturation
Noise and noise figure

Laser Amplifiers

Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers

Fiber Optics Communication Technology-Mynbaev & Scheiner

Types of SOA
Fabry-Perot Amplifier
High gain but non-uniform gain spectrum

Traveling wave amplifier

Broadband but very low facet reflectivities are needed

Gain as a function of frequency

Ripples are caused by the cavity modes
The overall gain curve is due to the width of the
atomic transition in the semi-conductor

Fundamentals fo Multiaccess Optical Fiber Networks

Dennis J. G. Mestgagh

Amplifier Bandwidths

Comparison of the bandwidths of Fabry Perot and Traveling wave amplifiers

Fiber Optics Communication Technology-Mynbaev & Scheiner

Traveling Wave SOA

To make a traveling wave Semiconductor
Optical Amplifier the Fabry-Perot cavity
resonances must be supressed. To
accomplish this the reflectivity must be
Three approaches are commonly used:
Anti-reflection coating

Tilted Active Region

Use of transparent window regions

Fiber Optics Communication Technology-Mynbaev & Scheiner

Saturation Power
Semiconductor Optical amplifiers saturate
silmilarly to a 2 level atom
The typical saturation output power for
SOAs is around 5-10 mW

Gain saturation and saturation power

Fiber Optics Communication Technology-Mynbaev & Scheiner

Crosstalk in Semiconductor Amplifiers

Rate equation for pump current
N (t ) ac
N (t ) N 0 (t )

dt qLWD

If suddenly goes to zero, as in 1-0 sequence,
N (t )
1 e t /

Time constant is


If suddenly turns on,

which is smaller


1 ac

Parameters on previous slide

N=carrier density (cm-3)
I=pump current (amp=coul/s)
q=charge on electron (coul)
L,w,d=cavity dimensions (cm3)
=recombination lifetime (s)
=confinement factor (unitless)
=photon density (cm-3)
a=gain coefficient (cm-1)

Crosstalk in semiconductor amplifiers

If time constant for spontaneous decay of
excited state is shorter than the bit duration,
the population of the excited state will vary
sharply with the optical power in the fiber, and
gain will depend on the fraction of 1s and 0s
in the data stream.
If time constant is long, then the population in
the excited state will be constant, dependent
upon the pump power but not the signal

Reduction of Polarization
Three main approaches
Connect the amplifiers in
Residual facet
can cause undesired
coupling between
amplifiers resulting in
poor noise and dynamic
Connect them in parallel
Good solution but

Double pass with polarizaion

Automatic 6 db loss due
to coupler
Fiber Optics Communication Technology-Mynbaev & Scheiner

Undesired effects in an SOA

Cross saturation can cause undesired coupling between
This can be used for wave length conversion and
controlling light with light
If used for multiple channels in a switched network gain
must be adjusted as channels are added and dropped

Four wave mixing is also quite pronounced in SOAs

Causes undesired coupling of light between
Can however also be used to advantage in
wavelength converters.
High coupling loss
Polarization sensitive gain

Fiber Optics Communication Technology-Mynbaev & Scheiner

Short Pulse Amplification in SOAs

Semiconductor amplifier advantages

Are the right size to be integrated with
waveguide photonic devices (short path
length requirement)
Can easily be integrated as preamplifiers at
the receiver end
Use same technology as diode lasers
Gain relatively independent of wavelength
Are pumped with current, not another laser

Semiconductor amplifier disadvantages

Polarization dependence
Self-phase modulation leading to chirp
Cross-phase modulation
Four-wave mixing and crosstalk
Extremely short (ns) excited state