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Dynamic linewidth measurement

technique using digital intradyne


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

Abstract: The phase noise characteristics and laser stabilization time of a


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.

References and links


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.

2. Linewidth measurement technique


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. Static linewidth characterization


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.

3.2. DSDBR tunable laser


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)

Fig. 5. FM noise power spectral density.

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. Dynamic linewidth characterization


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.

4.2. Wavelength switching on a five-channel 50GHz grid


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

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(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