Optical Amplifiers

There are three type of optical amplifiers:

 Semiconductor optical amplifier

 Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifiers (EDFAs)

 Raman Amplification

Types of Optical Amplifiers
Semiconductor Optical Amplifier
 As bandwidth demand rises,the construction of optical packet
switching nodes targeting optical routers would benefit from fast
optical switches

 Semi conductor optical amplifier(SOA)provides this high speed
switching capability,as well as high gain, high extinction ratio and high
integration potential

 SOA is a key technology for several other functions such as all optical
wavelength conversion,optical selection,regeneration,booster and in-
line amplification
Semiconductor Optical Amplifier
• An SOA is based on the same technology as a Fabry Perot Laser diode

• Such a LASER consists of an amplifying device inside a cavity(Fabry

• The amplification is achieved by externally pumping the energy levels of the

• In order to achieve only amplification functions it is necessary to protect the
device against self oscillations generating the LASER effect

• This is accomplished by blocking cavity reflections using an anti
reflection(AR)coating and the technique of angle cleaving the chip facets

• Unlike EDFAs which are optically pumped SOAs are electrically pumped
by injected current

Semiconductor Optical Amplifier
Structure of SOA
• The basic SOA consists of a central active section about 600mm long and
two passive sections at the input and output sides of the chip around 100mm

• The central active layer is based on separate confinement
heterostructure(SCH)and consists of 0.2mm thick tensile bulk active layer
embedded between two 0.1mm thick quaternary layers

• The central active layer is tapered over a length of 150mm,which allows
optical coupling to an underlying passive wave guide
Structure of SOA
• Residual reflectivity of less than 10
to ensure a gain ripple below

• Low optical loss so as to attain a net gain as high as 30dB

• High material gain to allow low drive current operation

• High output saturation power, defined as the output power for which
gain is reduced by 3dB

• Chip to coupling loss of less than 3dB per facet

• Polarization sensitivity of less than 0.5dB,because the polarization
state of the optical signal coming from a link fiber is usually random
Key Parameters required for SOA
Depending upon the efficiency of the AR(anti reflection)coating SOAs can
be classified as:

 Resonant Devices

 Traveling wave devices(TW)
Types of SOA
Types of SOA (Contd)
Resonant SOAs are manufactured using an AR coating with a
reflectivity of around 10
.They typically feature a gain ripple of 10 to 20
dB and a bandwidth of 2 to 10GHz

TW coating incorporate a material with a reflectivity less than 10
ripple of a few dB and a bandwidth of 5THz
Schematic representation of SOA
Application of SOAs:

 Amplifiers

 Switching

 Wavelength conversion and regeneration

 Selection and Inversion
SOA - Amplifier
 Discrete stand-alone SOAs can be used as compact booster
amplifiers(a standard device for single channel operation,a gain
clamped version for WDM operation)

 To achieve high sensitivity optically pre-amplified receivers as an
interesting alternative solution to replace avalanche photodiodes for
data rates of 40Gbps or higher

 Noise figure is a key factor for amplification applications:

Noise figure is defined as: n

Where n
is the inversion factor
is the overall input loss

SOA - Switching
 Optical cross connects(OXCs)constitute a major application area for

 SOA gate arrays are well suited for fast switching on the 1550nm
wavelength range

 An SOA gate array is an array of devices monolithically integrated on
the same substrate and used as a gate

 When the injected current is high it passes light through with some
amplification,if injected current falls near zero the device blocks the
light and thus an array acts as a switch

SOA – Wavelength converter and Regenerator
 Wavelength conversion can be achieved through cross phase
modulation(XPM)performed in an SOA based Mach-Zehnder

 A wavelength conversion operation incorporating a cascade of two
SOA based MZ-interferometer wavelength converters used in a co-
propogation scheme can yield 3R regeneration

 The first stage performs re-shaping and re-timing,then the second stage
matches the chirp of the output data for transmission over a high
dispersion link
SOA – Selection and Inversion
 A wavelength selector has been created using SOA gates placed
between two phased array wavelength de-multiplexer

 Spectral inversion is a mirror effect achieved in the signal spectrum
between higher and lower frequencies which are inverted

 It can be implemented using optical conjugation in a SOA structure in
high bit rate transmissions using standard single mode fibers
EDFA-Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifier
 Erbium is a rare metallic earth element that is used to amplify light
signals sent along fiber optic cable

 When Erbium is lined in a fiber optic material such as glass, and light
is pumped through it the result is an “Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifier”

 These amplifiers provide a large gain,which occurs when the fiber is
“pumped”by an additional light input at wavelengths shorter than

 EDFAs allow optical signals to be transmitted over long distances
without the need for signal regeneration particularly in DWDM

EDFA-Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifier
Basic operation of EDFA System
A coupler combines the input signal at wavelength of 1.5mm with a pump input of
l=1480nm or 980nm
The coupled signal passes through Erbium Doped Fiber which can go for many miles,
until it passes through an isolator
The isolator will basically de-couple the combined signal and output an amplified
original input signal
The function of the pump is to use light to lift atoms into specific excited states
Basically optical pumping requires there to be some optical transition between ground
state and excited state
Principle of Amplification in EDFA
Principle of Amplification in EDFA
Optical pumping requires some transition from ground state to excited
state,semiconductor laser diode is a realistic pump source

Through experimentation and research it was found that 532nm and 980nm were the
optimum wavelengths for pumping,which provided 1.35dB/mw and 2.2dB/mw of gain

By absorbing a pumped photon, electrons are elevated to a higher energy state

 These electrons decay quickly from this state to a third metastable state,this state is
called metastable because electron will remain in this state for 10ms before
spontaneously decaying to the ground state and emitting a photon in the process
Principle of Amplification in EDFA(Contd..)
This atom while in the metastable state excited state can be stimulated to emit its
energy by another photon

The emitted photon flux in this case is coherent with the stimulating photon flux,as
this process continues an incident beam is amplified with propogation through the
Erbium doped fiber core

Gain, saturation and noise characteristics contribute to overall gain in EDFA and can
be tweaked and tuned for optimum performance using the following parameters:

o Amplifier Fiber Length
o Pump Absorption Band
o Wave guide Characteristics
Parameters for optimum performance
Amplifier Fiber Length:
Because of pump decay along an Erbium doped fiber,a non-uniform medium inversion
Fiber becomes lossy after a certain length because the transmission medium is
absorbing when not inverted
Optimum length is dependent on input pump power since a longer length of inverted
medium can be achieved by higher pump power

Pump Absorption Band:
 If we assumed a fixed signal wavelength,three pump bands would be associated with
three different pumping effects
In the two level method,when the pump wavelength approaches signal
wavelength,required power tends to infinity,because of this pump wavelength should
be tuned away from the signal wavelength

However pump wavelength should not be very far from signal wavelength because
the absorption co-efficient decreases

Hence we require more pump power to get the photons to the excited state,due to
absorption co-efficient corresponding to a higher saturation power
Parameters for optimum performance
(ESA:Excited State Absorption)
2 Level: Excited/Stable
3 Level:Excited/Metastable/Stable
Few meters of regular fiber doped with a tiny amount of erbium ions:

Signal passes through this fiber along with light from pump laser

Pump laser excites Erbium ions which give extra energy to signal

Amplification possible at many wavelengths around 1550nm

Pumping with 980nm laser is more effective than 1480nm pumping

Commonly used in submarine systems, and increasingly on land
Raman Amplification
o A Raman amplifier uses intrinsic properties of silica fiber to obtain
signal amplification,this means transmission fiber can be used as a
medium for amplification

o An amplifier working on the principle of Raman amplification is
called a Distributed Raman Amplifier(DRA)

Raman Amplification(Contd..)
Raman Amplifier(Principle)
oThe physical property behind DRA is called SRS.this occurs when a
sufficiently large pump wave is co-launched at a lower wavelength than the
signal to be amplified

oRaman gain strongly depends on pump power and frequency offset between
pump and signal

oAmplification occurs when the pumped photon gives up its energy to create
a new photon at the signal wavelength plus some residual energy which is
absorbed as phonons(vibrational energy)
Raman Amplifier(Principle)
o As there is a wide range of vibrational states above ground state,a broad range
of possible transitions are providing gain

o Raman gain increases almost linearly with the wavelength offset between signal
and pump peaking at about 100nm and then dropping rapidly with increased

o The position of the gain bandwidth within the wavelength can be adjusted
simply by tuning the wavelength

oThus Raman amplification potentially can be achieved in every region of the
transmission window of the optical transmission fiber(It only depends on the
availability of powerful pump sources at the required wavelength)

oThe disadvantage of Raman amplification is the need for high pump powers to
provide a reasonable gain

Pros and Cons of Raman Amplifier over EDFA
Advantages over EDFA:
Low Noise Build up
Simple design,as direct amplification is achieved in the optical fiber and no special
transmission medium is required
Flexible assignment of signal frequencies,as Raman gain depends on the pump
wavelength and not on a wavelength sensitive material parameter,such as emission
cross section of dopant in the Erbium Doped Fiber(EDF)
Broad gain bandwidth is achievable by combining Raman amplification effect of
several pump waves that are placed carefully in wavelength domain

Not only specially launched pump waves but also but also some of the WDM
channels may provide power to amplify the other channels this would result in power
to amplify other channels and thus cross talk leading to de-gradation
Degrading effects like Raman scattering and backward Rayleigh scattering also
affects the performance

Comparison of Raman Amplifier and EDFA
Characteristic Doped-Fiber Amplifier Raman Amplifier
depends on dopant depends on availability of pump wavelengths
20 nm, more for multiple dopants/fibers 48 nm, more for multiple pump waves
20 dB or more, depending on ion concentration, fiber
length, and pump configuration
4–11 dB, proportional to pump intensity and
effective fiber length
Saturation Power depends on gain and material constants equals about power of pump waves
Pump Wavelength 980 nm or 1480 nm for EDFAs
100 nm lower then signal wavelength at peak