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Proceedings Paper

Optical noise figure: fundamental basis and measurement principles
Author(s): Douglas M. Baney
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Paper Abstract

Fiberoptic transmission systems are based on the transmission and reception of intensity-modulated optical signals. Within these networks, optical amplifiers are deployed to compensate for fiber propagation and optical splitting losses1. Both high-speed digital and CATV transmission are used placing significant demands on the fidelity of the transmission network. Optical amplification of intensity-modulated signals also imparts intensity noise which degrades the signal-to-noise ratio at the amplifier output terminals. The importance of intensity noise is illustrated in Figure 1 by the figures of merit describing signal or transmission quality that are based on intensity measurements. Figure 1 shows how Q, bit-error rate (BER), relative intensity noise (kIN), and received signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) all depend on measurable intensity noise. In this paper we will discuss how the SNR degradation after passage through an optical device such as an amplifier is quantified in terms of its noise figure17. In particular, we will focus on the direct-detection noise figure that is applicable to the direct-detection optical communications systems in place or being contemplated for deployment. The noise figure is used to compare the noise-generating nature of amplifiers allowing (along with data on gain, bandwidth, power etc.) a basis for selection of an amplifier for a particular application. We will also discuss some of the noise mechanisms contributing to the intensity noise along 'with a review of measurement methods used for the characterization of amplifier noise figure. The theory presented here applies to both active and passive optical components.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 December 2000
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 4087, Applications of Photonic Technology 4, (15 December 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.406419
Show Author Affiliations
Douglas M. Baney, Agilent Technologies (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4087:
Applications of Photonic Technology 4
Roger A. Lessard; George A. Lampropoulos, Editor(s)

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