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Theory of enhanced AM-modulation bandwidth in Push-pull DFB lasers


D. D. Marcenac, M.C.Nowel1 and J. E. Carroll University Engineering Department, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 lPZ, UK Abstract:
Push-pull modulation of a two contact, uniform DFB laser enables AM modulation bandwidl lis well beyond the conventional electron-photon resonance limit for single contact deviccs. A small signal analytic theory for this AM response is given.
Introduction: Laser sources with small, or even negative, chirp, and high amplitude-niodul*1Ion I bandwidths are necessary for high-speed, long distance optical fibre telecommunication I inks. Directly modulated single contact DFB lasers are convenient sources for optical communications, but suffer both from substantial chirping due to a non-zero linewidlli enhancement factor, and from a modulation bandwidth limited by the electron-photon resonance. The use of DFB lasers with external or integrated modulators is a natural way to reduce the chirp over conventional, directly modulated DFBs. Another way is to use multicontact DFB lasers in a push-pull modulation scheme: the total drive current to the dcvicc i s kept constant, but amplitude modulation is provided by increasing the current into one end of t h c device, while simultaneously decreasing the drive current into the other end. As shown in Figurc I , transmission of a digital I could achieved with currents, say, (11,12)=(20,40)mA, whilc a 0 requires (I 1,12)=(40,20)mA. The amplitude modulation is caused by a longitudinal displacement of optical power within the laser, due to the bending of the Bragg stopband under inhomogeneous current injection. As demonstrated experimentally [ 11, the symmetry of thc device means that both the I and 0states have the same wavelength, hence that chirp is reduced. Another striking property of push-pull modulation is the enhanced AM modulation bandwidth predicted by time domain dynamic modelling [2], the theory for which is presented here.

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I1

I2

Bragg stopband

Figure 1 : (a) Push-pull modulation scheme; (b) Displacement of the optical power by the shifted Bragg stopbands.

Small signal A M rcsponsc: The AM response of conventionally modulated laser diodes

is

characterized by a resonance at the laser relaxation oscillation frequency, beyond which thc response drops at a rate of 20dB/decade. The relaxation oscillation frequency increases with the square root of the optical power. For push-pull modulation of a uniform DFB with 2nd order
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grating, the AM response is dramatically different, as shown in Figure 2(a). Indeed, simulations using a large signal travelling wave time domain model [3] reveal that: (A) a first cut-off appears at frequency Fc, beyond which the response drops by lOdB/decade, which is followed (B) by a resonance at FR,and a subsequent 30dB/decade roll-off. FRdoes not vary with optical power, but is a function of the laser structure, whle Fc increases linearly with optical power.

3 Id
v

FR=50GHz

z
n
0

+
6,

(a)

IOo Frequency(Gk) 10

(b)

10 Frequency ( G k ) lo

Figure 2: (a) Magnitude of AM response for low and high bias drive currents D; (b) Response of optical power displacement over difference in carrier density in the two sections. Figure 2(b) shows the response of the difference in optical power in both halves of the laser AP, over the difference in mean carrier density AN in both sections of the laser: this response is independent of optical power, and features a resonance at frequency FR, followed by a 20dB/decade fall-off. The frequency FR depends on the laser structure, and is equal to the separation between the (-1), lasing mode and the (-2) side mode. Since FR governs the ultimate modulation speed of the laser, shorter cavities and weaker gratings, which result in a larger mode spacing, are beneficial for ultra-fast modulation. Once the simple response of Fig. 2(b) is established for a given structure, an analytic theory for the full AM response of figure 2(a) is easily derived, from rate equations linking the difference in carrier density AN, the difference in optical power AP, and the difference in current injection AI=I1-12 in both sections.
Summary: An analytic formula for the AM modulation response of push-pull DFB lasers is derived. Its predictions are that at high powers, the modulation bandwidth is limited by a resonance FR, dependent on the laser structure, and equal to the spacing between the lasing mode, and its closest side mode. This ultimate modulation bandwidth is typically between 20 and 100 GHz for common DFB devices. At lower powers, a cut-off frequency Fc limits the modulation bandwidth. Fc increases linearly with optical power, and is larger in a laser with high linewidth enhancement factor, where a small difference in carrier density AN is more effective at displacing the optical power from the center of the device.

References: [ 11 M.C.Nowel1, L.M.Zhang, J.E.Carrol1 and M.J.Fice. IEEE Photon. Tech. Lett. 5: 1368-1371, 1993. [2] M.C.Nowel1, L.M.Zhang, and J.E.Carrol1, Paper CWJ1, Proc. CLEO 94, Anaheim, CA, 1994. [3] C.F.Tsang, D.D.Marcenac, J.E.Carrol1 and L.M.Zhang. IEE Proc Part-J. 141:11-17, 1994.
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