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How to measure laser linewidth using an optical coherent receiver

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coherent receivers

Robert Maher∗ and Benn Thomsen

Optical Networks Group, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering,

University College London, London WC1E7JE, UK

∗ r.maher@ee.ucl.ac.uk

tunable laser under both static and fast switching operation is characterized

using a dynamic linewidth measurement technique which employs a digital

intradyne coherent receiver. The measurement technique utilizes a time

domain frequency estimator to characterize the laser phase noise and also

analyses the separate noise contributions to the overall laser linewidth. The

performance of the measurement technique is validated using a phase noise

emulator and a low linewidth (10kHz) external cavity laser. The dynamic

stabilization time, in terms of instantaneous frequency and linewidth, of a

fast switching tunable DSDBR laser is subsequently investigated and we

demonstrate that a minimum linewidth for a DSDBR laser can be realized

within 50ns of a wavelength switching event in a 5-channel 50GHz spaced

WDM system.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

OCIS codes: (060.1660) Coherent communications; (140.3425) Laser stabilization;

(140.3600) Tunable lasers; (290.3700) Linewidth.

1. B.C. Thomsen, R. Maher, D.S. Millar, and S.J. Savory, “Burst mode receiver for 112 Gb/s DP-QPSK,” in Euro-

pean Conference on Optical Communications, (ECOC 2011), paper Mo.2.A.5.

2. M.G. Taylor, “Phase estimation methods for optical coherent detection using digital signal processing,” J. of

Lightwave Technol. 27, 901–914 (2009).

3. A. Bianciotto, B.J. Puttnam, B. Thomsen, and P. Bayvel, “Optimization of wavelength-locking loops for fast

tunable laser stabilization in dynamic optical networks,” J. of Lightwave Technol. 27, 2117–2124 (2009).

4. K. Shi, P.M. Anandarajah, D. Reid, F. Smyth, L.P. Barry, and Y. Yu, “SG-DBR tunable laser linewidth and its

impact on advanced modulation format transmission,” in European Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics

2009.

5. A.K. Mishra, A.D. Ellis, L.P. Barry, and T. Farrell, “Time resolved linewidth measurements of a wavelength

switched SG-DBR laser for optical packet switched networks,” in Optical Fiber Communication Conference,

2008 OSA Technical Digest Series (Optical Society of America, 2008), paper OTuC4.

6. T. Duthel, G. Clarici, C.R.S. Fludger, J.S. Geyer, C. Schulien, and S. Wiese, “Laser linewidth estimation by

means of coherent detection,” Photon. Technol. Lett. 21, 1568–1570 (2009).

7. K. Kikuchi and K. Igarashi, “Characterization of semiconductor-laser phase noise with digital coherent re-

ceivers,” in Optical Fiber Communication Conference, 2010 OSA Technical Digest Series (Optical Society of

America, 2010), paper OML3.

8. Z. Zan and A.J. Lowery, “Experimental demonstration of a flexible and stable semiconductor laser linewidth

emulator,” Opt. Express 18, 13880–13885 (2010).

9. R. Maher and B.C. Thomsen, “Dynamic linewidth measurement technique using digital intradyne coherent re-

ceivers,” in European Conference on Optical Communications, (ECOC 2011), paper We.10.P1.45.

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B313

10. A.J. Ward, D.J. Robbins, G. Busico, E. Barton, L. Ponnampalam, J.P. Duck, N.D. Whitbread, P.J. Williams,

D.C.J. Reid, A.C. Carter, and M.J. Wale, “Widely tunable DS-DBR laser with monolithically integrated SOA:

design and performance,” J. of Quant. Electron. 11, 149–156 (1996).

11. M.C. Amann and S. Illek, “Linewidth broadening by 1/f noise in wavelength-tunable laser diodes,” J. of Appl.

Phys. Lett. 70, 1512–1514 (1997).

12. M.C. Amann and R. Schimpe, “Excess linewidth broadening in wavelength-tunable laser diodes,” Electron. Lett.

26, 279–280 (1990).

1. Introduction

The phase noise characteristics of widely tunable lasers are of great interest when considering

such devices for implementation in burst switched coherent optical networks that employ higher

order phase sensitive modulation formats [1]. In such systems, the linewidth of both the trans-

mitter and receiver local oscillator lasers impact on the bit error rate performance of the system

and in particular may cause cycle slips in the carrier and phase recovery. Cycle slips occur when

a π /2 phase rotation (for QPSK) is missed by the carrier and phase recovery algorithm, after

which the receiver will begin to decode the received symbols in the incorrect quadrants, causing

catastrophic errors and subsequent network outage until the receiver is reset. The constraint on

laser linewidth to achieve a tolerable cycle slip probability (10−18 ) is approximately two orders

of magnitude lower than that required to obtain a low Q-factor penalty [2]. If the cycle slip

probability is too high, differential decoding and data precoding will be required. Therefore it

is imperative to accurately characterize the stabilization time, in terms of the instantaneous fre-

quency and linewidth, of widely tunable lasers after a wavelength switching event has occurred,

in order to avoid bit errors due to laser phase noise and catastrophic bit errors due to cycle slips.

Typically for optical burst or packet switched schemes, the switching time of the fast tun-

ing transmitter or receiver is characterized and in order to negate the transmission performance

degradation associated with a switching event, the output of the device is blanked during the

stabilization period. Such systems have traditionally employed the on-off keyed (OOK) mod-

ulation format and therefore only the laser switching time and frequency stability have been

extensively characterized [3]. However, as previously discussed, the stabilization time of the

laser linewidth is also important when considering coherent optical networks that utilize phase

sensitive modulation formats. The static linewidth of widely tunable lasers has been previously

characterized using the delayed self heterodyne technique [4] and a dynamic characterization

has been reported using an optical heterodyne technique with a measurement resolution of

5MHz [5]. Coherent heterodyne measurements of laser linewidth and phase noise character-

istics have also been reported, however both of these schemes were performed on static low

linewidth lasers [6, 7].

Conversely, in this paper we perform dynamic linewidth measurements on a fast switch-

ing digital supermode distributed Bragg reflector (DSDBR) tunable laser and characterize the

linewidth of the laser in a 2 and 5-channel WDM test bed. From this characterization an ac-

curate assessment of the laser stabilization time, in terms of lasing frequency and linewidth,

can be determined. In addition to this the individual noise sources (relative intensity, phase and

1/f noise) which compose the linewidth of a digital supermode distributed Bragg reflector tun-

able laser is also investigated. The linewidth estimation technique is validated using a linewidth

emulator and a low linewidth external cavity laser.

The digital intradyne coherent receiver setup for verifying the laser linewidth measurement

technique is illustrated in Fig. 1(a). An external cavity laser with a 10kHz linewidth, operating

at a wavelength of 1544nm, was split into two paths using a 3dB fibre coupler. One arm was

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B314

passed directly into the local oscillator (LO) port of a digital coherent receiver, while the second

arm was passed through a linewidth emulator stage. The linewidth emulator consisted of a

nested Mach-Zehnder (MZM) IQ modulator and an arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) as

outlined in [8]. Theoretical phase noise was digitally generated as a Wiener process through

Eq. (1):

√ n

φ (n) = 2π Δvdt ∑ X(n) (1)

0

where X(n) is a random Gaussian variable, Δv is the specified linewidth and dt is equal to

one over the sampling frequency, Fs . The arbitrary waveform generator converted the real and

imaginary parts of the phase modulation into analogue I and Q drive signals for the MZM at

a sample rate of 12GS/s. A 3GHz frequency shift was also imposed on the phase noise by the

IQ modulator to allow for heterodyne reception in the coherent receiver with the same low

linewidth source. The coherent receiver consisted of a 90◦ hybrid, four balanced pin detectors

and a 50GS/s Tektronix real time oscilloscope with a hardware bandwidth of 16GHz. The in

phase and quadrature components of the beat note between the LO arm of the laser source and

the phase modulated arm were recorded over a 50μ s time frame at 50GS/s and with a 20kHz

frequency resolution. The received signal was digitally down converted, resampled and filtered

using offline processing.

0

(b) Field Spectrum

−10 Lorentzian Fit

−20

Magnitude (dB)

−30

−40

−50

−60

−70

−1.2 −0.8 −0.4 0 0.4 0.8 1.2

Frequency (GHz)

Fig. 1. (a) Linewidth characterization experimental setup and (b) power spectral density of

coherently received signal complex field with a Lorentzian fit.

A standard technique for measuring the laser linewidth is to fit a Lorentzian curve to the

power spectral density of the received complex field. This method is illustrated Fig. 1(b), which

shows the spectrum of the external cavity laser when the linewidth emulator was set at 2MHz.√

The full width half maximum linewidth, measured at the 20dB point (ΔvFW HM = Δv20dB / 99),

was 2.13MHz. This technique will suffice for very stable sources where long FFT lengths can

be used to calculate the laser spectrum, however it is not an adequate solution when the laser

source exhibits low frequency drift or when it is switching. If a laser switching event occurs

the intermediate frequency (IF) of the beat note between the signal under test and the LO

will change rapidly, therefore very low FFT lengths are required to track this fast frequency

variation, thus diminishing the resolution of the measurement. Additionally, if the absolute

frequency of the laser exhibits a very slow variation, the FFT will compute the average of the

laser phase noise and this slow frequency variation over the measurement time window. This

will result in a broader linewidth and therefore the Lorentzian fit will over estimate the true

value of the laser phase noise. To overcome this we have employed a time domain frequency

estimator which calculates the instantaneous frequency of the beat note for each sample point

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B315

k, through Eq. (2), where xin is the complex field of the coherently received signal [9].

1 ∗

f (k) = arg {xin [k]xin [k − 1]} (2)

2π dt

The linewidth is subsequently calculated by obtaining the variance of the instantaneous fre-

quency through Eq. (3), where μ is the mean instantaneous frequency. When the laser is op-

erating in static mode, the variance is calculated over the entire measurement time window,

however for the dynamic linewidth characterization the variance is calculated over a specified

bus width (Nwin ), which is required for a real time application that utilizes a parallelized digital

signal processing implementation [1].

2π dt Nwin

Δv = ∑

Nwin − 1 1

( f (k) − μ )2 (3)

3.1. Low linewidth ECL and phase noise emulator

To initially verify the performance of our linewidth estimation technique, the phase modulation

applied to the linewidth emulator was varied from 100kHz to 100MHz and the linewidth of the

received signal was calculated using both a Lorentzian fit to the power spectral density and also

from the variance of the instantaneous frequency calculated through Eq. (2) and Eq. (3), where

the time window was 50μ s. Figure 2(a) illustrates the measured linewidth as a function of the

theoretical value. The continuous blue line indicates the digitally generated linewidth used in

the emulator. For the time domain frequency estimator, the received complex field was resam-

pled to reduce the measurement bandwidth to 4GHz to ensure that the linewidth was calculated

over a bandwidth that only contained the beat note frequencies, thus limiting the impact of out

of band white noise originating in the receiver. From Fig. 2(a) it is evident that our proposed

linewidth measurement technique accurately estimates the theoretically specified linewidth and

also agrees with the values obtained from the Lorentzian fits of each laser spectrum.

8

10 (a) 9

10 (b)

Measured Linewidth (Hz)

Linewidth (Hz)

7

10 8

10

6

10 Simulated 7

10

Field Spectrum

5

Temporal Technique

10

6

5 6 7 8 10 9 10

10 10 10 10 10 10

Simulated Linewidth (Hz) Measurement Bandwidth (S/s)

Fig. 2. (a) Measured linewidth as a function of the theoretical value and (b) measured

linewidth as a function of the measurement bandwidth.

In order to investigate the impact of the measurement bandwidth on the time domain estima-

tor, the linewidth was calculated as a function of the resample rate. Therefore the measurement

bandwidth was varied by resampling and digitally filtering (5th order Kaiser filter) the captured

signal over a range of sample rates (2-50GS/s). Figure 2(b) illustrates the calculated linewidth

as a function of the measurement bandwidth when the emulator was set to a linewidth of 2MHz,

which is indicated by the flat line. As the linewidth emulator applied the phase noise to the ECL

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B316

on a 3GHz carrier, harmonics of this carrier are also present on the received signal. Therefore

if the resample rate is too high, these harmonics combined with the out of band white noise

originating in the receiver contribute to the estimated phase noise. Conversely, at lower sample

rates the signal is filtered too tightly, resulting in the laser phase noise being under estimated.

In addition to this, it is also imperative to utilize the full range of the analog to digital (ADC)

convertor in the the coherent receiver, otherwise excess quantization noise will be added to the

received signal, which will also subsequently increase the estimated laser phase noise. Here we

see that the optimal measurement bandwidth for a laser source with a linewidth of 2MHz is

approximately 4GHz.

As previously mentioned, discrepancies between the Lorentzian fit and the linewidth meas-

ured using the time domain frequency estimator may arise if there is a slow variation in the

laser’s absolute frequency. Therefore it is also important to consider the sources of noise that

contribute to the phase variation. These can be identified by examining the complex field op-

tical spectrum, the FM noise spectrum and the amplitude noise spectrum, as these provide an

indication of each contribution to the overall composition of the laser linewidth [7]. Figure 3(a)

illustrates the single sided power spectral densities of the received complex field and the ampli-

tude noise for the ECL when the linewidth emulator was set at 2MHz. The slope of the complex

field decreases at a rate of 20dB per decade, which is expected for a Wiener phase noise process

and results in a Lorentzian spectral profile, where the noise is proportional to 1/ f 2 . The PSD

of the signal amplitude is equivalent to the relative intensity noise (RIN) of the laser, where the

measurement noise floor is approximately -80dB.

Figure 3(b) illustrates a flat FM noise spectrum and estimated linewidth (flat red line) which

is expected for a stable laser source, where the amplitude is proportional to the linewidth. The

FM noise spectrum illustrates the single sided linewidth, therefore an amplitude of 1MHz is

visible from Fig. 3(b). However if the laser under test exhibits slow frequency variations, the FM

noise spectrum will deviate from a flat profile and the PSD of the complex field will broaden,

which result in an over estimated Lorentzian fit. The influence of slow frequency drift on the

linewidth measurement scheme is examined in the proceeding section using a commercially

available DSDBR tunable laser.

0 10

PSD: Complex Signal 10 FM Noise Spectrum

(a) (b) Estimated Linewidth

PSD: Amplitude (RIN)

8

−20 10

Magnitude (dB)

FM Noise (Hz)

6

−40 10

4

−60 10

2

−80 10

0

−100 5 6 7 8 9 10 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10

Frequency (Hz) Frequency (Hz)

Fig. 3. (a) Power spectral density of the complex field and amplitude noise and (b) FM

noise spectrum.

The tunable laser was a temperature controlled device and consisted of eight front mirror sec-

tions, gain, phase, rear and SOA sections, as detailed in [10]. Front mirror sections 3 and 4

were biased at 1.7mA and 3.1mA respectfully using ultra low noise laser current drivers. The

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B317

gain, SOA, rear and phase sections were biased at 110mA, 80mA, 14.3mA and 0.6mA respect-

fully, resulting in a lasing wavelength of 1558.65nm and a side mode suppression ratio (SMSR)

greater than 50dB. The experimental setup used to measure the phase noise characteristics of

the tunable laser is shown in Fig. 4(a). The output of the tunable laser was passed into the sig-

nal port of the coherent receiver and a low linewidth (100kHz) tunable external cavity laser was

used as the local oscillator.

0

(b) Field Spectrum

Lorentzian Fit

−10

Magnitude (dB)

−20

−30

−40

−50

−60

−1.2 −0.8 −0.4 0 0.4 0.8 1.2

Frequency (GHz)

Fig. 4. (a) Static linewidth characterization experimental setup and (b) power spectral

density of the received complex field and the corresponding Lorentzian fit.

10

10 FM Noise Spectrum

8

Estimated Linewidth

10

FM Noise (Hz)

6

10

4

10

2

10

0

10

−2

10 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10

Frequency (Hz)

The received beat note between the LO and the signal from the tunable laser was digitally

down converted to baseband, down sampled and filtered to a measurement bandwidth of 4GHz.

Figure 4(b) illustrates the power spectral density of the received complex field and the corre-

sponding Lorentzian fit. The full width half maximum of the Lorentzian fit, measured at the

20dB point was 8.8MHz. The value estimated using the time domain frequency estimator was

2.1MHz, which is significantly lower than the value obtained using the conventional Lorentzian

fit. The reason for this can be intuitively understood by considering the FM noise spectra of the

DSDBR tunable laser, as depicted in Fig. 5. The instantaneous frequency is approximately flat

from 100kHz out to the resample frequency (single sided: 2GHz), with the spikes correspond-

ing to the multiple suppressed sub-peaks visible in the PSD of the received signal complex

field (Fig. 4b). However, the DSDBR laser exhibits considerable 1/f noise power at frequencies

below 100kHz, which is in contrast to the stable ECL used in the phase noise emulator. The

low frequency noise arises from 1/f carrier noise [11] and injection recombination shot noise

(IRSN) in the passive tuning regions of the laser [12]. The flat portion of the FM noise spectrum

beyond 100kHz gives rise to a double sided linewidth of 2.2MHz, which is consistent with the

2.1MHz obtained from the time domain frequency estimation technique.

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B318

In high bit-rate coherent communication systems the white FM noise is more detrimental to

system performance. Therefore the measure of linewidth using the Lorentzian fit of the complex

field PSD is not a good measure of phase noise in widely tunable lasers, which employ the free

carrier plasma effect to tune the emission frequency, as it may be dominated by 1/f noise.

Therefore the white FM noise component, which is measured using the time domain frequency

estimation technique described in section 2, is important for evaluating the performance widely

tuneable lasers in high speed coherent communications systems.

4.1. Two-channel switching event

In order to analyze the dynamic performance of the linewidth estimation technique the fast

switching DSDBR tunable laser was implemented in the experimental setup as shown Fig.

6(a). The tunable laser was switched between two wavelength channels by applying a 5kHz

square wave with a 3.2ns rise time to one of the front mirror sections. The gain and SOA sec-

tions were biased at 110mA and 80mA respectfully, while the rear and phase sections remained

unbiased. Switching the front mirror section resulted in a supermode wavelength switch of ap-

proximately 6.3nm, which altered between 1544.1nm (channel 1) and 1550.4nm (channel 2),

with a side mode suppression ratio (SMSR) greater that 50dB for both channels. Utilizing the

front mirror sections and un-biasing the phase and rear sections minimized the contribution

to the phase and 1/f noise. This provided an optimum initial linewidth for the tunable laser to

experimentally verify the performance of the dynamic linewidth estimation technique, however

a more practical switching implementation of the DSDBR laser is investigated in section 4.2.

Two low linewidth (∼100kHz) external cavity lasers (ECL) were tuned to match the switching

wavelengths exhibited by the DSDBR laser and were combined using a 3dB fibre coupler to

provide the LO for the coherent receiver. As both external cavity lasers were running in con-

tinuous wave mode, the instantaneous frequency variation and linewidth of the fast tuning laser

could be tracked throughout the switching transition.

30

(b)

25

Linewidth Variation (%)

20

15

10

0

4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18

Log2(Bus Width)

Fig. 6. (a) Dynamic linewidth characterization experimental setup and (b) percentage vari-

ation of the simulated 2MHz linewidth as a function of the bus width.

For real time performance monitoring of the tunable laser stabilization time, a parallelized

DSP implementation would have to be used. Therefore the linewidth and frequency estima-

tion is calculated for a given bus width [1]. A small bus width should be used to ensure the

greatest temporal resolution, however as the number of samples used to calculate the variance

of the instantaneous frequency (Eq. (3)) is reduced, the error associated with the measurement

increases. Figure 6(b) illustrates the estimated linewidth as a function of bus width for a 2MHz

simulated phase noise, which was generated using Eq. (1). It is evident that as the bus width is

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B319

reduced the variation in the estimated linewidth increases. A typical bus width of 128 samples

was used in our dynamic linewidth characterization setup, which corresponded to a temporal

resolution of 25.6ns (128 samples at 5GS/s). By using a bus which is 128 samples wide the

variation of the linewidth estimates were approximately ±10%. The accuracy of the linewidth

estimate could be improved by using a larger timing window, as indicated by Fig. 6(b), however

this would come at the expense of the temporal resolution of the measurement. To overcome

this limitation, a number of traces could be recorded from the real time oscilloscope sequen-

tially. A smaller bus width could then be taken from each scope trace at the same instant in

time and an average of all the samples could be computed. The bus would then move to the

next number of samples of each scope trace and the process is repeated. While this will provide

greater granularity, the measurement will be a time average of all the received scope traces and

is therefore not suitable for a real time application.

Figure 7(a) illustrates the instantaneous frequency and time resolved linewidth of the DS-

DBR tunable laser as it switches between channel 1 and channel 2. The intermediate frequency

of the beat note for each channel was different (CH1:∼-1.7GHz and CH2:∼1.8GHz), therefore

each burst was digitally down converted to baseband before the entire signal was down sam-

pled and filtered. From this dynamic characterization an accurate representation of the laser

switching dynamics in terms of frequency stabilization and linewidth can be determined. Each

laser channel had a dwell time of 100μ s which was determined by the frequency (5kHz) of the

switching voltage applied to the laser mirror section. Therefore after 100μ s elapsed the laser

switched from channel 1 to channel 2 and a sharp change in the instantaneous frequency was

experienced, with the maximum variation that can be measured limited by the resample rate

(5GS/s) to ±2.5GHz. Figure 7(b) illustrates the switch from channel 1 to channel 2, displayed

over a smaller time period. From this figure it is evident that the tunable laser switched from

channel 1 to within 2.5GHz of the stabilized channel 2 frequency in ∼70ns. During the switch-

ing event the laser linewidth was initially dominated by the rapid change in the intermediate

frequency but settled to a value of 1 to 2MHz within 70ns. A similar stabilization time of ∼70ns

was experienced as the laser switched back from channel 2 to channel 1, however channel 2

exhibited a slightly lower linewidth which was consistently of the order of 1-1.5MHz which

could be attributed to slightly different bias positions for each channel.

2 8 3 8

(a) Linewidth (b) Linewidth

Frequency 7 2 Frequency 7

Frequency (GHz)

6

Frequency (GHz)

1 6

Linewidth (MHz)

Linewidth (MHz)

1

5 5

0 4 0 4

3 3

−1

−1 2 2

−2

1 1

−2 0 −3 0

0 50 100 150 200 250 300 98.8 99.2 99.6 100 100.4 100.8 101.2

Time (us) Time (us)

Fig. 7. (a) Instantaneous frequency variation and dynamic linewidth as the tunable laser

switched from channel 1 to channel 2 and (b) single switch from channel 1 to channel 2.

To further assess the practicalities of employing a DSDBR laser as a local oscillator in a burst

switched coherent receiver, it was implemented in a 5-channel 50GHz spaced WDM system,

illustrated in Fig. 8(a). Five commercially available distributed feedback lasers (DFB) with

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B320

linewidths of 500kHz at a bias current of 110mA were temperature tuned to reside on a 50GHz

grid from 1551.86nm to 1553.46nm. The DSDBR tunable laser was dynamically switched

between the 5-channels by applying a stepped voltage signal to the rear section of the device

using an arbitrary waveform generator. Each switching voltage level had a duration of 8μ s. In

addition to this, constant currents were applied to front mirror section 3 (5mA), mirror section 4

(0.7mA), the gain (150mA) and SOA (100mA) sections, using ultra low noise current sources.

The lasers phase section remained unbiased to limit the contribution to the low frequency 1/f

noise.

2 8

(b) Linewidth

1.5 Frequency 7

Frequency (GHz)

1 6

Linewidth (MHz)

0.5 5

0 4

−0.5 3

−1 2

−1.5 1

−2 0

0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40

Time (us)

Fig. 8. (a) Dynamic linewidth characterization experimental setup and (b) instantaneous

frequency variation and dynamic linewidth as the tunable laser switched sequentially from

channel 1 to channel 5.

The received signal contained the beat note of all five DFB channels, each at a slightly differ-

ent intermediate frequency. Therefore each 8μ s burst was digitally down converted to baseband

before the entire signal was down sampled and filtered. Figure 8(b) illustrates the linewidth and

instantaneous frequency as a function of time for the DSDBR laser for all five bursts. The first

burst corresponds to the switch from channel 5 to channel 1, after which the laser switched

sequentially from one channel to the next. The measured linewidth also contains a contribu-

tion from the DFB lasers as both complex fields are convolved in the receiver. Therefore this

measurement provides the overall convolved linewidth between the transmitter and receiver

lasers, which is an important parameter to consider for coherent optical networks that utilize

higher order modulation formats and digital coherent reception. The modulation format order

and baud rate, to be employed in the coherent optical network, may be dictated by the overall

convolved linewidth between the transmitter and receiver laser sources.

From Fig. 8(b), it is evident that the linewidth of the DSDBR laser settles down within

approximately 50ns for each of the 5 channels. The instantaneous frequency settles to within

0.5GHz of the channel 1 frequency in 50ns, which represents the largest wavelength switch

in the 5-channel system. The instantaneous frequency for the remaining 4-channels returns to

below 100MHz of their respective channel frequencies within the same time period. The steady-

state convolved linewidth always remains below ∼3MHz after a switching event, with the best

performing channel exhibiting a linewidth of approximately 1MHz. The variation in linewidth

between each of the bursts stems from the different operating points for the DSDBR laser,

which were optimized to match the comb wavelengths and not for best linewidth performance,

which would be commensurate with a practical implementation of a burst mode transceiver.

This linewidth variation is an inherent property of tunable DBR laser structures, where the

lowest linewidth performance depends on the fine optimization of the control currents applied

to each laser tuning section.

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B321

5. Conclusion

We have demonstrated a dynamic linewidth measurement technique using a digital intradyne

coherent receiver and shown that the temporally resolved linewidth estimation gives results

that are comparable to those obtained in the static case. The switching dynamics, in terms of

switching time, frequency stability and linewidth of a DSDBR tunable laser were characterized.

In addition to this the separate noise sources which contribute to the overall composition of laser

linewidth were also investigated and it was shown that the time domain linewidth estimator

detailed in this work is an optimum technique to measure the white noise component of the laser

phase noise. The stabilization time of a commercially available DSDBR laser was investigated

by implementing it in a coherent burst mode receiver in a 5-channel WDM test-bed. It was

shown that the DSDBR tunable laser could switch to within 500MHz of the desired channel

frequency with a minimum linewidth in 50ns.

Acknowledgment

The authors would like to thank Oclaro Technology Limited for the supply of the DSDBR laser

used in this work. R. Maher is supported by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering

and Technology, co-funded by Marie Curie Actions under FP7. B. Thomsen is supported by the

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) under Grant EP/D074088/1.

#155899 - $15.00 USD Received 3 Oct 2011; revised 25 Oct 2011; accepted 25 Oct 2011; published 18 Nov 2011

(C) 2011 OSA 12 December 2011 / Vol. 19, No. 26 / OPTICS EXPRESS B322

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