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DOP TESTING METHODS FOR 078 APPLICATION NOTE PUMP MODULES IN RAMAN AMPLIFICATION Olivier Plomteux, Sr. Product Manager Raman Amplification and Polarization Semiconductor laser diodes emit highly linear polarized light. When used as pump lasers for the purpose of optical amplification, a strong dependency of the gain to the polarization state of the signal is observed. This phenomenon is called polarization-dependent gain (PDG). In a network, the effects of PDG can potentially add to the effects of polarization-dependent loss (PDL) caused by passive components, which may, consequently, result in serious signal distortion that can impair network performance. Therefore, it is very important to control all components and optimize them so as to minimize PDL or PDG. The key to successfully commissioning a Raman optical amplifier with low PDG is to pump the non-linear optical fiber media with sources that are almost completely depolarized. This can be achieved by combining several pump lasers with crossed polarizations. The power of the pumps should be carefully balanced to reach a low degree of polarization (DOP). At this stage, a fast and accurate technique to measure low DOP becomes absolutely necessary. The purpose of this application note is to present the DOP measurement method recommended by EXFO, using the IQS-1700 Power Meter (with OHS-1700 Optical Head) and the IQS-5100B Polarization Scrambler. Causes of PDG in Raman Amplifiers In stimulated Raman scattering (SRS), an incident photon can stimulate the emission of a secondary photon only with the contribution of the pump polarization with the same orientation. Raman gain is negligible for orthogonal polarizations of the pump and signal. PDG occurs mainly on the pump injection side and is directly related to the pump’s residual DOP. When there is more pump power for the same DOP, there is a stronger pump signal with a determined polarization state, so PDG increases. In other words, PDG depends on the intensity of the polarized portion of the pump signal more than on the DOP itself. PDG is larger in a co-propagating pump configuration, 7 0,16 since the signal and pump experience a more similar 0,14 dispersion of their polarization modes than in counter- 6 propagation. Pumping from the end of the fiber is usually 0,12 5 recommended since it provides gain to lower power 0,1 PDG (dB) DOP (%) signals so that other non-linear effects do not occur. 4 0,08 3 0,06 2 0,04 1 DOP (%) 0,02 PDG (dB) 0 0 92 140 192 244 306 370 424 500 564 634 700 780 860 922 996 1060 1120 1190 Pump Power (mW) Figure 1: PDG of a Raman amplifier when pump power (gain) is increased. Pump’s source DOP is measured for equivalent pumping levels. Fiber is SMF-28, 25 km long in counter-propagation pumping. Telecommunications Test and Measurement Application Note 078 In Figure 1, DOP and PDG were measured as pump power was increased. The PDG was measured using a polarization-independent power meter and tunable laser source as an input signal. The DC level due to Raman amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) was subtracted in order to provide an exact PDG value in dB. The tunable laser was set to 1550 nm, while the pump was set to 1455 nm. Although it may not be very clear at lower pump power values, DOP and PDG values usually follow each other when a significant part of the pump power is polarized. DOP Testing Methods Most people familiar with polarization measurements have a natural tendency to use polarimeters or polarization analyzers to measure DOP, but as we will see, if only DOP is to be measured, they do not offer the best performance and are usually rather expensive. Polarimetric Method Polarimeters are instruments or subsystems that first measure signal polarization properties, such as state of polarization (SOP), then find the main ellipse axis and provide the ratio between the polarized and unpolarized parts of the signal leading to DOP. The DOP is simply calculated as follows: Ppolarized DOP = Ppolarized + Punpolarized The Stokes parameters1 fully define the polarization characteristics from intensity measurements only. A polarimeter defines a Cartesian reference system and measures the power of the incoming signal polarization in particular axes and orientations. These intensities are: I0 : Total power Ix : Power along the X-axis Iy : Power along the Y-axis I+45 : Power along the axis corresponding to a +45º linear polarization state I–45 : Power along the axis corresponding to a –45º linear polarization state IR : Power along the axis corresponding to an incoming right-handed polarization state IL : Power along the axis corresponding to an incoming left-handed polarization state For example, if the incoming signal is linearly polarized and oriented along the reference x-axis of the polarimeter, Ix / I0 = 1, and all other intensities would equal zero. If the incoming signal was 50 % depolarized and the remaining 50 % would be linearly polarized and oriented along the reference x-axis of the polarimeter, Ix / I0 = 0.5, and all other intensities would equal zero. And so on. The Stokes parameters are defined as: S0 : I0 (polarized + unpolarized) S1 : Ix – Iy S2 : I+45 – I–45 S3 : IL – IR For completely unpolarized light, all states exist so that, in theory, S1, S2 and S3 are null. However, in reality, uncertainties due to detection noise, signal power fluctuation during the measurement cycle, rotating optics repeatability, calibration of the polarization control elements and influence of signal wavelength will create shifts in the intensities measured. These inaccuracies will add up since DOP is defined as the normalized radius of vector formed by the three Stokes parameters: 1 Ref. “Polarization of Light, Serge Huard, ed. John Wiley & Sons, Masson, 1997” Telecommunications Test and Measurement Application Note 078 DOP = (S21+ S22 + S23)1/2 S0 The main drawback of the polarimetric method is the large uncertainty in nearly unpolarized situations (for DOP less than 5 %), which limits the resolution and accuracy that can be obtained. A typical polarimeter consists of a rotating quarter-wave plate that sequentially aligns its principal axis to the different Cartesian reference system axes. The polarizer, adjusted to the same angular positions, measures the part of the signal that is linearly polarized. The circularly polarized part of the input signal will be transformed into linearly polarized light by adjusting the quarter-wave plate’s slow or fast axis at 45º from the main reference axis. These two elements are followed by a power measurement device. By changing the angular orientation of the two polarization-control elements, with high accuracy and repeatability, it is possible to measure the DOP and SOP of the input signal. The polarimetric method is the most common method to obtain the “average” properties of signal polarization. Signal in Power λ/4 POL Meter Figure 2: A typical polarimeter composed of a rotating quarter-wave plate and polarizer, followed by a power measurement device. Scrambling Method Historically, this method was not used because scramblers were not readily available and the measurement was basically manual, using Lefevre loops, which is obviously time-consuming, operator-dependent and not so accurate. Polarization scramblers such as the EXFO IQS-5100B, which can automatically scan up the entire Poincaré sphere in one second, can provide high-precision DOP measurements. This method uses a scrambler followed by a fixed polarizer. The power through this assembly is measured throughout the entire scrambling period and maximum values are recorded. At some points during the scrambling cycle, the polarized part of the signal will either be aligned or orthogonal to the polarizer’s main axis. When aligned, it corresponds to a maximum power level so that all the polarized part of the signal passes through. When orthogonal, it corresponds to a minimum power level so that the polarized part of the signal is cut (polarization extinction). Therefore, the difference Pmax – Pmin is equal to Ppolarized. The unpolarized signal is not affected by the scrambler. Its contribution is constant, but reduced to half by the polarizer (–3 dB). At Pmin, the contribution of the polarized signal is zero; therefore, Punpolarized = 2×Pmin The DOP can then be estimated by the following formula: DOP = (Pmax–Pmin)/(Pmax+Pmin) Telecommunications Test and Measurement Application Note 078 A typical setup for DOP measurement using the scrambling method is rather simple and can be built with standard components and measurement instruments. The EXFO IQS-1700 Power Meter and OHS-1700 Remote Optical Head is an ideal combination for this application due to its fast acquisition bandwidth and high-power capability. Signal in IQS-5100B Polarizer IQS Series Polarization Power Meter Scrambler Figure 3: A DOP measurement setup based on the scrambling method using EXFO’s fast and low-activation-loss polarization scrambler, followed by a fixed polarizer and combined with the high-speed IQS-1700 Power Meter ensures accurate and low-value DOP measurements. High-Power Handling The polarizer can either be a pigtailed assembly or a bulk polarizer for low- and high-power applications, respectively. Raman pumps of over 200 mW to 300 mW (typical damage threshold of epoxies) are common items and attenuation prior to a pigtailed polarizer is required to perform a measurement and to avoid optical damage to components. If a fixed attenuator is required, it should be a low-PDL model since it will slightly repolarize the signal. Any component containing PDL before the polarization scrambler will repolarize a low-DOP signal and alter the measurement. Care should be taken to minimize this effect (use flat-polish connectors instead of angled, for instance). The effect of a PDL-induced component over a totally depolarized signal can be estimated using the following equation (PDL value in dB): DOP (in %) = (10(PDL/10) – 1) (10(PDL/10)+1) A good approximation for this formula over a range of common PDL is: DOP (in %) = 12×PDL (in dB) As a numerical example of this effect, let’s assume an attenuator with a PDL of 0.1 dB; the PDL induced will increase the signal DOP to 1.2 %. The DOP is, therefore, over-estimated in this case. ASE PDL = 0.1 dB DOP in = 0 % DOP out = 1.2 % Figure 4: The DOP increases by inserting, in the test measurement setup, a component, such as attenuator or switch that shows non-negligible PDL. Telecommunications Test and Measurement Application Note 078 If an optical switch or attenuator is placed between the scrambler and polarizer, for a 0 % DOP incoming signal, the polarized portion of the signal will remain in the same SOP at the polarizer input while scrambling. Obviously, this is true only if the device birefringence and the test jumpers remain constant during one entire scrambling cycle. The ideal solution is to use a collimating lens and bulk polarizer assembly, followed by an open-beam optical head such as EXFO’s OHS-1700 for measuring power. The IQS-5100B Polarization Scrambler is an all-fiber instrument, so connectors must be kept absolutely clean if the power level exceeds the 200 mW to 300 mW range. With great attention paid to connector cleanliness, this unit can provide accurate polarization scrambling of Raman pumps at 1455 nm, at a power level of up to 1 W. Optical beam DUT Collimating Lens Bulk Polarizer IQS-5100B OHS-1700 Optical Head Polarization Power Meter with 7 mm Scrambler diameter aperture and integrating cavity Figure 5: Typical DOP measurement setup for an input signal over 300 mW, using an all-fiber polarization scrambler and an open-beam optical-head power meter. Uncertainty Issues In order to measure the uncertainty of a particular setup based on the scrambling method, one should consider the following issues: Source (DUT) power stability over the measurement period will be seen as an increase in DOP. If power variations are too large, they could be compensated for by monitoring the power after the scrambler (with a tap coupler). Incomplete Poincaré sphere coverage can lead to under-estimated DOP values. Coverage ratio can be measured by finding the largest diameter cone that crosses the sphere for which no SOP point was measured. Figure 6: Evaluation of a polarization scrambler’s SOP coverage, based on fitting a cone into the Poincaré sphere. This example shows an uncovered SOP area of 2 %. Telecommunications Test and Measurement Application Note 078 Polarization scrambler’s activation loss is defined as the change in transmittance while scrambling. Values less than 0.01 dB are recommended. Polarizer imperfections lead to lower efficiency in separating the two orthogonal polarization axes. However, with an extinction ratio of 30 dB or more, this effect is negligible. Detector noise and bandwidth must be taken into account. Since the method is based on minimum/maximum levels and that measurements are taken in a rather short interval, bandwidth should be wide enough to follow the rate of change in SOP due to the scrambling mechanism, but not too wide, so as to still be able to limit the noise superposing the signal. Noise cannot be subtracted from the power fluctuations due to the scrambling of polarized light through the polarizer. Benefits of Scrambling Method The advantages of the scrambling technique are numerous. Despite the fact that the method leads to limited polarization characteristics, it does offer the following important benefits: Calibration-free: Precisely measures low-value DOPs at any wavelength over the singlemode 1250 nm to 1650 nm range. Broad usage: Reutilizes common building blocks, such as power meters and scramblers, a combination that can also be used for measuring the PDL of components and the output power of the optical pumps. Simple: Except for connector cleaning when using a large high-power setup, the method (including deployment, problem diagnosis) is rather simple. High-power capability: By using a large-area bulk polarizer and an integrating-cavity power meter, it is possible to measure DOP of pumps up to at least 1 W (30 dBm). Building a DOP Emulator Whatever your preferred method, it is important to occasionally verify the validity of the measurement to establish how precise or accurate your DOP measurement setup really is. A fiber-based Mach-Zenhder interferometer can be used for this task. A zero-DOP value can be emulated by equaling the power in orthogonal linear states of polarization. Both arms contain a stable polarization controller to align the orthogonal linear SOPs with the axes of a polarization combiner. In one branch, a VOA is used for balancing power, alternatively blocking one or the other arm to equalize the power level in both SOPs. A long fiber, acting as a delay line, is added to one arm to prevent the interference that can occur between the signals produced from the same emitter. The emitter should be highly polarized and can be chosen so that it approaches the wavelength and spectrum of the pumps to be tested. By changing the attenuation, one can also produce any desired DOP value to verify the validity, linearity and repeatability of the measurement setup. If a scrambling method has to be verified against this setup, the minimum producible DOP is limited by the stability of the emitter and splitting unit. The fiber and test jumpers should be stable in birefringence to ensure the stability of the power that is transmitted once aligned. This can be verified by sequentially measuring the power stability of each arm over a few seconds. Telecommunications Test and Measurement Application Note 078 1 km SMF PC Shutter 50:50 Emitter IQS-3100 PC Shutter VOA Polarization combiner To DOP measurement setup Figure 7: Any DOP value from 0 to 99,999 % can be emulated with the above setup. This is useful to validate and confirm the integrity of DOP measurement instruments, particularly in various wavelength or spectrum situations. Conclusion Measuring the degree of polarization of Raman pump modules is a must, as neglecting this measurement may lead to unwanted PDG in links using Raman amplification. This is especially critical when using Raman pumps consisting of similar-wavelength highly polarized laser diodes with polarization pump combiners. Whether it is for testing their long-term ability to maintain a low-DOP value or for adjusting power in each arm during manufacturing, the scrambling technique has proven to be highly beneficial over the more traditional polarimetric method. Reliable and repeatable measurements (± 0.3 %) have been achieved using EXFO’s DOP test setup, which combines the IQS-5100B Polarization Scrambler and IQS-1700/OHS-1700 High-Performance Power Meter and Optical Head—it’s the perfect match for measuring DOP values of less than 1 % in standard and high-power devices! 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