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Proceedings Paper

In-fiber variable optical attenuation with ultra-low electrical power consumption
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Paper Abstract

The variable optical attenuator (VOA) is an important part of agile optical telecommunication systems. VOAs built on so called free space technologies carry important drawbacks in terms of mechanical reliability, size and optical loss. Evanescent field approach have been used to design VOAs with very low insertion loss. Thermo-optic modulation mechanism was mainly used to control the attenuation level, which unfortunately requires from 10 to 100 times more electrical power compared to above mentioned free space architectures. This power consumption issue may be very challenging in high count arrays of VOAs. At the same time, liquid crystals (LC) have been proved to require very low electrical power for operation. In the present work, we report the creation of evanescent field modulation based VOA with extremely low insertion loss (below 0.1dB) and low electrical power consumption by removing a portion of the original fiber's cladding and replacing it by a specifically synthesized composite LC material, which have an ordinary refractive index lower than the glass one. The initial orientation of LC molecules provides an effective refractive index of the electro-optic cladding that is equal to the refractive index of the original silica cladding. We then create a LC molecule reorientation by the so-called Fredericksz effect by applying to the LC material an electrical voltage. This reorientation changes the refractive index around the depressed cladding area and brings to the partial leakage of the guided radiation into the cladding area, achieving thus attenuation levels above 50dB. Measured maximum electrical power consumption of the VOA is in the microwatt range.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 April 2005
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 5724, Organic Photonic Materials and Devices VII, (4 April 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.591280
Show Author Affiliations
Armen Zohrabyan, Photintech Inc. (Canada)
Dany Dumont, Photintech Inc. (Canada)
Amir Tork, Photintech Inc. (Canada)
Rouslan Birabassov, Photintech Inc. (Canada)
Tigran Galstian, Photintech Inc. (Canada)
Univ. Laval (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5724:
Organic Photonic Materials and Devices VII
James G. Grote; Toshikuni Kaino; Francois Kajzar, Editor(s)

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