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ISOLATORS &

CIRCULATORS
Submitted By: Tanvi Nara
( 14ECP017)

Introduction
Couplers

and other such optical


devices : Reciprocal devices

Isolators

and circulators : Nonreciprocal devices

Non-reciprocal

optics means that


changes in the properties of light
passing through the device are
not reversed when light passes
through opposite direction.

Circulator

is a passive onreciprocal 3 or 4-port device.

Circulator

Isolator
When

one port of a 3-port circulator is


terminated, it can be used as an isolator,
since signal can travel in only one
direction b/w remaining ports.

Isolators

are used at output of optical


amplifiers to prevent reflections from
entering the devices, which would
otherwise degrade the performance.

key parameters of an isolator: Insertion


loss (~1dB)

Isolator from a circulator

Circulator
A

circulator is similar to an isolator, except that it has multiple ports,


typically (a)three or (b)four.

Circulators

work on the same principles as isolators.

Principle of Operation
State

of polarization (SOP) of light refers to the orientation of its


electric field vector(E) on a plane that is orthogonal to its direction
of propagation.
E=Ex +Ey

where Ex and Ey are the horizontal and vertical modes respectively.

Assume

that the input light signal has the vertical SOP as shown in the
figure. It is passed through a polarizer which passes only light energy
in the vertical SOP.

The

polarizer is followed by a Faraday rotator i.e. a non-reciprocal


device that rotates the SOP by 45deg, regardless of the direction of
propagation.

The

faraday rotator is followed by another polarizer that passes SOPs


with this 45deg orientation.

Thus

light signal from left to right is passed without any loss.

But

the light signal from going from right to left due to reflection, with
the same 45deg SOP orientation, is rotated another 45deg by rotator,
and thus blocked by the first polarizer.

Note:

In the above example, a particular SOP was assumed for input


light signal but practically we cant control the SOP of a light signal.

Practical polarization-independent
isolator
The

SWP (spatial walk-off polarizer) splits the signal into two


orthogonally polarized components.

SWP

are realized using birefringent crystals whose refractive index is


different for two components.

Faraday

rotator rotates the SOP by 45deg

Propagation from L to R

Half

wave plate ( a reciprocal device) rotates the SOPs by 45deg in


clockwise direction for signals propagating from L to R and by 45deg
in anticlockwise direction for signal going from R to L

Therefore,

combination of rotator and half wave plate converts


horizontal polarization into vertical and vice versa and the two
signals are combined by another SWP at the output.

Propagation from R to L

For

reflected signals in the reverse direction, the half wave plate


and Faraday rotator cancel each others effects, and SOPs remain
unchanged as they pass through these two devices and are thus
not recombined by the SWP at the input.

Advantages of circulator
Circulators

can be used to achieve bidirectional transmission over single fibre.

Because

of its high isolation of the input


and reflected optical powers and its low
insertion loss, optical circulators are
widely used in advanced communication
systems
and
fibre
optic
sensor
applications.

References
Optical

networks by Rajiv Ramaswami