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Analysis of spurious RF signal caused by
retardation in optical two-tone signal
generator utilizing polarization manipulation
Akito Chiba, Yosuke Akamatsu, and Kazumasa Takada
Abstract—We evaluate the spurious RF power due to retardation in a polarization-maintaining optical fiber constituting an
optical two-tone (OTT) signal generator for RF frequency quadrupling. The OTT signal generator relies on polarization
manipulation to suppress undesired carrier, so retardation would degrade the second-order RF spurious signal in the
optical/electrical conversion signal obtained from the OTT signal. Our analysis found that a 6-dB degradation of carrier
suppression originates in a 0.2-rad retardation, which results in a 1.7-dB increase in the second-order spurious RF signal.
Index Terms— Optical two-tone signal, frequency quadrupling, polarization, spurious RF signal.

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F signal generation and distribution using photonics
has gradually become more significant for application to coherent radar [1] and clock distribution
[2],[3] in addition to wireless communication [4],[5]. In
such applications, signal conversion between RF and
lightwaves typically relies on electro-optical (EO) modulation and direct detection of modulated lightwaves, because the phase noise is dominated only by the RF signal
generator driving the EO modulator [6]. As well as frequency downconversion with a feature of widebandwidth operation [7], frequency upconversion using
direct detection of high-order sidebands obtained from
optical modulation is also an attractive feature of this
scheme [8],[9],[10]. Such a pair of phase-synchronized
two monochromatic lightwaves is called as optical twotone (OTT) signal. We recently demonstrated generation
of the OTT signal for RF frequency quadrupling, using
polarization manipulation instead of optical filtering [11].
In this scheme, the polarization of the undesired carrier is
rotated by superposing another unmodulated lightwave
with linear polarization perpendicular to the carrier to be
suppressed. Then the combined lightwave is passed
through a polarizer, yielding the desired sidebands, and
the carrier component disappears when the angle of the
polarizer is adequately adjusted. Orthogonally-polarized
modulation lightwaves are prepared using one propagation mode of a polarization-maintaining Sagnac loop interferometer (PMSI) that is tolerant of arm-length fluctuation with temperature, together with a single MachZehnder optical modulator (MZM). However, in the polarization- maintaining optical fiber (PMF) that is indispensable to introduce the lightwave to the polarizer with
preserving its polarization, undesired phase-difference

The authors are with Graduate School of Science and Technology, Gunma
University, 1-5-1, Tenjin-cho, Kiryu-shi, Gunma 376-8515, Japan

shift between each pair of polarization modes would occurs, degrading the carrier component suppression. During the measurement, only intensity of the carrier component is degradaded while this of each sideband remains
stable, so that driving condition of MZM less affects such
a change of carrier intensity.
In this paper, we describe the impact of retardation in
the PMF on the second-order spurious RF signal obtained
from optical/electrical (O/E) conversion. According to a
model analysis using parameters evaluated from experimental results, a 0.2-rad retardation in the PMF would
cause a 6-dB degradation of the carrier suppression ratio
(CSR) against the desired signal (±second-order sidebands), resulting in a 1.7-dB increase in the second-order
spurious signal.


Fig. 1 shows a model of our OTT signal generator, which
is composed of PMSI coupled with an optical circulator
(OC) and a polarizer with a polarization extinction ratio
of ξPOL. In the following analysis extinction ratio of polarizing beam splitter is neglected, because its optical power
is so small (against the optical carriers in the Sagnac loop)
and its effect is temporary stable: the effect can be compensated using the half-waveplate just before the polarizer. A top-biased push–pull MZM with an on–off extinction ratio of ξ is inserted into the arm of the Sagnac interferometer. Then, when a linearly polarized lightwave
prepared by a polarization controller (PC) is launched
into the setup, only the S-polarized lightwave is sinusoidally modulated, and it is converted to P-polarized lightwave before it returns into OC again. Due to top-biased
bias-voltage condition, only even-order sidedband and
carrier is obtained from the MZM, while odd-order sidebands disappear at the MZM. And, the lightwave propagating with counter-clockwise direction is never modulated, due to sufficiently-small RF signal refrection at the


registance terminating the modulation electrode of MZM.
Here, the optical fibers are short and occupied bandwidth
of the OTT signal is not so wide (e.g.: for f0=10 GHz,
wavelength separation of 4f0 corresponds to 0.32nm), so
we neglect their dispersion. Assuming that the phase
modulation at either arm of the MZM is Δθ cos2πf0t, we
obtain the lightwave EO after it passes through the polarizer as follows:

0 ⎞ ⎛ cos θ
⎛ 1
⎛ E ⎞
j 2πυ t − n z c
EO = ⎜ OP ⎟ = e 0 ( e ) ⎜
⎟⎟ ⎜
⎝ EOS ⎠
⎝ 0 1 ξPOL ⎠ ⎝ − sin θ

sin θ ⎞
cos θ ⎠

J (Δθ ) j{2π (2 n +1) f0 (t −ne z c )} ⎤ ⎞
⎜ cos α ∑ (−1) n ⎢ J 2 n (Δθ )e j{2π ⋅2 nf0 (t −ne z c )} + j 2 n +1
⎥ ⎟
× ⎜
n =−∞
⎥⎦ ⎟ ,
−e jγ sin α


where the first and second rows represent P and S polarization, respectively. Note that the sinusoidally modulated P-polarized component is converted from the Spolarized component by a polarization-rotation element.
θ is the rotation angle for projecting the polarization, and
α is the polarization angle of the incident linearly polarized lightwave. Jm(Δθ) are the mth-order Bessel functions
of the first kind, with an argument Δθ. Hereafter, Δθ is
assumed to be less than 2.405; Jm(Δθ) ( n ≥ 0 ) is positive.
In addition, ν0 is the optical frequency of the incident
lightwave, and c is speed of lightwave in vacuum; for
simplicity, hereafter exp[j2πν0(t-nez/c)] is omitted. ne is
effective refractive index of either mode in PMF from port
3 of OC. Polarization-mode dispersion in the PMF between PC and port 1 of OC is omitted (this effect appears
as shortening of effective length of the PMF between port
3 of OC and the quarter-wave plate (QWP), owing to polarization rotation). And γ is the retardation originating
from the PMF, and from QWP to compensate for their
static retardation. As an initial condition, QWP angle is
adjusted so as to compensate the retardation of the PMF;
i.e. γ = 0. For γ = 0 and infinite ξPOL, the carrier lightwave
disappears perfectly in the output lightwave when the
following condition is satisfied [11]:

−sin θ sin α + cosθ cos α J 0 (Δθ ) = 0.


Since MZM does not generate odd-order sidebands, the
main components in the transmitted lightwave are ±2ndorder sidebands when eq.(2) is satisfied; beating of them,
obtained from the photodiode with sufficient frequency
bandwidth, is desired frequency-quadlpled RF signal. It
can be also explained using a schematic of optical amplitude spectrum for each polarization [11]. By substituting
Eq. (2) into Eq. (1), for a slight deviation of γ from zero, EO
is derived to be
− jγ
EO = cos θ cos α ⎜

⎜ ξ

tan θ tan α + ASB

⎧ tan α
⎨ 2 + ASB tan θ ⎬ ⎟⎟
⎩ cos θ
⎭ ⎠

cos θ
⎛ − jγ cos θ cos α J 0 (Δθ ) ⎞ ⎜
= ⎜
⎟ + ⎜ − 1 sin α ⎟ + ASB cos α ⎜ − 1 sin θ ⎟ ,
⎠ ⎜ ξ
⎜ ξ


Fig. 1.
Analysis model of OTT signal generator for RF frequency
quadrupling. Double and single lines denote optical paths and RF
lines, respectively. α: polarization controller; OC: Optical circulator;
PBS: polarizing beam splitter; MZM: Mach-Zehnder optical modulator with an extinction ratio of ξ ; PRE: 90° polarization rotation element; λ/4, λ/2: wave plates; ξPOL: polarizer with an extinction ratio of
ξPOL; PD: photodiode.

where ASB denotes a series of optical sidebands:

ASB = ∑ (−1) n ⎡⎣ J 2 n (Δθ )e j{2π ⋅2 nf0 (t − ne z / c )}
n =1

+ J −2 n (Δθ )e j{2π ( −2 n ) f0 (t −ne z / c )} ⎤⎦
∞ ⎡
(−1) n
+ j ∑ ⎢
J 2 n +1 (Δθ )e j{2π (2 n +1) f0 (t −ne z / c )} ⎥.
n =−∞ ⎢
⎣ ξ MZM


Although the first and second terms of Eq. (3) indicate the
carrier amplitude, their origins are different; the former
depending on γ, originates in retardation, whereas the
latter is due to the imperfection of the polarizer. From Eq.
(3), the optical power of the carrier lightwave, P0, is derived as follows:

1 sin 2 α ⎤ 2
P0 = ⎢γ 2 cos 2 θ cos 2 α +
⎥ J 0 (Δθ ).
ξ POL cos θ ⎥⎦


The beat RF signal i0, which is generated by direct detection of EO, is approximately derived as


i0 ∝ E0 = −2 J 0 (Δθ )γ (cos 2 θ cos 2 α ) Im [ ASB ]
2 J 0 (Δθ )
Re [ ASB ]
ξPOL cos 2 θ
+ ⎨
+ 1⎬ ASB cos 2 θ cos 2 α ,
⎩ POL


where some terms contributing to the DC component of i0
are omitted in Eq. (6). Because ASB shows a discrete spectrum with a frequency spacing of f0, i0 is also a series with
a fundamental frequency of f0. Hereafter, the nf0 frequen-


cy component of the first term depends on γ, and the others are denoted as ΔΙ (n) and I0(n), respectively; i.e.,

i0 = ∑ ⎣⎡ I 0 (n) cos ( 2π (nf 0 )t + φ0 n )
n =0

+ΔIγ (n) sin ( 2π ( nf 0 )t + φγ n )⎤⎦ .


The residual optical carrier described in the first and
the second term of eq. (3) induces spurious RF signals, via
beating with optical sidebands described in the third
terms of eq. (3). For the second-order RF signal, both φ n
and φ n are equal to 8πf0nez/c and originate from the group
delay of the OTT signal. Then I0(n=2) and ΔI0 (n=2) are
derived as follows:



I 0 (n = 2) ∝ −

4 J 0 (Δθ ) J 2 (Δθ ) ⎧
+ ⎨
+ 1⎬
ξPOL cos θ
⎩ ξPOL cos θ ⎭

⎡ J 2 (Δθ )
× ⎢ 1
− 4∑ {J 2 n (Δθ ) J 2 n + 2 (Δθ )
n =1
⎣ ξ MZM
J 2 n −1 (Δθ ) J 2 n +1 (Δθ ) ⎬ ,

ΔIγ (n = 2) ∝ 4 J 0 (Δθ ) J 2 (Δθ )γ .

Fig. 2.
Optical spectra of lightwave to be converted into RF
signal. Zero of horizontal and vertical axis corresponds to the
wavelength of 1549.96 nm, and optical power of incident lightwave, respectively.



Then the increase in the second-order spurious RF signal power ΔP due to the increase in ΔI (n=2) is




ΔP2 = 10log10 1 + ( Δiγ (n) / i0 (n) )



in units of decibels. Under this analysis model, the oddorder spurious RF signals become zero owing to the
phase relation between each pair of optical sidebands.
Even if the spurious signal may appear owing to slight
deviation of bias voltage and/or chirp in the MZM [12],
this power would be weaker than the even-order RF spurious signals.

Using the above derivation, we estimated fluctuation
of the spurious RF power in the experimentally obtained
conversion signal. Fig. 2 shows optical spectra of the
generated OTT signal to be converted into an RF signal,
one of which showing CSR of 25.7dB is previously reported [13]. Here α, Δθ, and f0 are 17°, 2.2, and 10 GHz,
respectively. Power and wavelength of incident carrier
was 6.23 dBm and 1549.96 nm, respectively. Although
spectra were acquired every few minutes under the same
settings, the carrier component gradually increased. Because the intensities of the other sidebands remain constant, the increase was not due to drift in the bias voltage
applied to the MZM. Fig. 3 shows the CSR dependence of
the second-order spurious (frequency: 20 GHz) RF power.
In the calculation, ξPOL and ξMZM were set to 28.2 and 26.5
dB, respectively, on the basis of measurement results.
The calculation result using the above equation shows

Fig. 3.
Second-order spurious RF power (left vertical axis)
obtained from experiment (open circles) and analytical calculation (dashed lines) versus suppression ratio of optical carrier
against desired ±second-order sidebands. Left vertical axis is
normalized by the value at a 22.5-dB suppression ratio. Solid
line indicates expected retardation (right vertical axis).

good agreement with the results evaluated experimentally. This indicates that the 6-dB degradation of the CSR
results in 1.7-dB increase in ΔP2. By the derivation, the
spur signal power at a 22.5-dB CSR is evaluated to be
−11.3 dB against the desired fourth-order (40 GHz) RF
signal. The retardation expected from the carrier intensity is also plotted in Fig. 3, which indicates that the CSR
would be degraded by the 0.2-rad retardation drift in the

In summary, we performed model analysis of an OTT
signal generator in which undesired carrier is suppressed
using a polarizer, in order to evaluate degree of spurious
RF signal obtained from the OTT signal. The polarization
change due to a 0.2-rad retardation in the PMF causes a 6dB increase in the residual carrier in the generated OTT


signal, which induces a 1.7-dB increase in the secondorder spurious signal.

The authors would like to thank Mr. K. Higuma of
Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co. Ltd. and Dr. T. Sakamoto of National Institute of Information and communications Technology (NICT) for supplying equipments,
and to thank Prof. G. W. Lu of Tokai University for
fruitful discussions. This work was in part supported
by Ministry of Internal affairs and Communications,
Japan (SCOPE, 142103013), Gunma university foundation for science and technology, Japan and JSPS


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Akito Chiba received the B.E. degree in electric and precision engineering, and the M.E. and Ph.D. degreesin the field of electronics
and information engineering from Hokkaido University, Sapporo,
Japan,in 2000, 2002, and 2005, respectively. From 2005–2010, he
was with New-Generation Network Research Center, National Institute of Information and CommunicationsTechnology (NICT), Koganei,
Tokyo, Japan, where he was engaged in lithium niobate electrooptic
devices and their applications to optical communication. From 2010–
2011, he joined the Faculty of Engineering, Shizuoka University,
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan, for CREST Project supported by
Japan Science and Technology Agency, where he was involved in
the development of cathodoluminescent thin film for electron-beamassisted high-resolution optical imaging. Since 2011, he has been an
Assistant professor in the Division of Electronics and Informatics,
Faculty of Science and Technology, Gunma University, Kiryu, Gunma, Japan. His current research interests include the field of applied
optics and fiber optics utilizing modulation for optical communication
and measurement. Dr. Chiba is a member of the Optical Society,
IEEE Photonics Society, the Japan Society of Applied Physics, Optical society of Japan, and the Institute of Electronics, Information, and
Communication Engineering of Japan.