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J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

DOI 10.1007/s12596-015-0289-y

RESEARCH ARTICLE

Feedforward control techniques for Erbiumdoped fiber


amplifiers challenges and solutions
Invited paper
Lutz Rapp1

Received: 30 September 2014 / Accepted: 5 May 2015 / Published online: 2 November 2015
The Optical Society of India 2015

Abstract Feedforward control of optical amplifiers is


mandatory in wavelength routed networks to avoid traffic interruption resulting from fast input power variations.
Effects limiting the efficiency of this control technique
are discussed and an overview over techniques compensating for the most important ones is presented. Detailed
insight into the wavelength dependence of the optimum
pump power setting is provided by a mathematical model.
Taking this dependence into account requires to filter the
input signal. Three different techniques are explained that
make use either of an additional filter placed in front of the
input monitor, an embedded gainflattening filter, or even
the erbiumdoped fiber itself. Timing is another important
issue. Besides introducing a delay in front of the first doped
fiber, sophisticated control schemes working without additional optical components by modifying the waveform of the
pump signal are analyzed. Different setups such as cascaded
amplifier stages with intermediate dispersion compensating
fiber are considered. The stages are either controlled individually or are coupled via a pump splitter. Finally, solutions
complementing the pump power control by fast adaptation
of the attenuation of a variable attenuator are contemplated.
Keywords Optical communication Optical networks
Wavelengthdivision multiplexing Erbiumdoped fiber
amplifiers Transients Feedforward control

 Lutz Rapp

lutz.rapp@coriant.com
1

Coriant R&D GmbH, St.-Martin-Str. 76, D81541


Munich, Germany

Introduction
Erbiumdoped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs) have paved the
way to the introduction of wavelength division multiplexing
(WDM) in optical communication systems [1] which has
become the basic technology for static and dynamic wavelength routed networks [2]. Such kind of networks provide
a cost efficient solution for content distribution and allow to
respond rapidly to changing traffic demands. However, nonlinear fiber effects and the nonideal dynamic properties of
EDFAs make their performance sensitive to component failures, fiber breaks, or protection switching since these events
are leading to unpredicted changes in optical power. Resulting power variations can propagate to other sites inducing
optical power fluctuations across the whole network and
possibly to oscillations. As a consequence thereof, surviving channels and even channels that are not transmitted
over affected multiplex sections may suffer from performance degradation at the receivers [3]. The most important
impact stems from signal distortions induced by nonlinear
effects in the transmission fibers, power excursions beyond
the dynamic range of the optical receivers, and deterioration
of the optical signal-to-noise ratio (OSNR) [4].
Gain variations have been shown to accumulate in a
cascade of amplifiers and the speed of the transients can
increase along the chain [5]. Although intelligent wavelength assignment policies [6] limiting the maximum power
excursions have been proposed, requirements in view of
amplifier control are still quite stringent. Thus, efficient
amplifier control techniques precisely stabilizing the inversion and the gain profile of an amplifier are mandatory.
Sophisticated alloptical control techniques have been
developed [7, 8] and even have been combined with traditional control concepts [9, 10]. But fast electronic control

210

architectures are still the most economical solution to stabilize the gain of EDFAs [11]. Typically, feedforward and
feedback control techniques are combined [12]. The fast
feedforward control reacts quickly to the power changes and
prevents large gain deviations, but some permanent variations are unavoidable due to inaccuracies of the used models, aging effects, and intrinsic effects. These deficiencies
are compensated by the slow feedback system cleaning up
for any error in the predetermined adjustment made and thus
helping to recover the original gain of the amplifier over
time. This combination allows to make the feedforward control robust against aging effects and changing environmental
conditions by continuously updating the control parameters during operation [13]. On an again larger time scale,
corrections are done by the link control including the continuously running preemphasis [14]. Some indications on
the required bandwidth of the control circuits can be found
in [15].
If a change of the input power is detected, the feedforward control sets the pump power preferably immediately
to a new power level. In combination with the altered signal
powers, this new power level leads to the same steady
state inversion level existent before the power change. In
order to achieve optimum results, the prediction of the
new pump power level should be as accurate as possible
and almost immediate. But in some cases even this is not
sufficient.
This paper deals with effects affecting the performance
of the feedforward control for EDFAs. Methods and setups
eliminating or at least reducing the impact of these effects
are presented. The aim is to give an overview over available
techniques and to explain key concepts. Details can be found
in the referenced documents. First, tasks of the feedforward control and underlying principles are described, before
disturbing effects are considered. A mathematical model
gives deeper insight into the wavelength dependence of the
optimum pump power setting. The following section provides an overview over techniques taking this dependence
into account, whereas the subsequent section treats of timing issues in different kind of amplifier setups. After some
closing remarks, conclusions are drawn.

Tasks of the feedforward control


Optical amplifiers are commonly equipped with monitors
at the input and the output that allow to adjust the output power to a target value communicated by the network
management system and to keep the average gain of the
complete amplifier on a longterm basis at a constant level.
However, adjusting the pump power immediately after input
power changes such that the average gain is maintained at a
constant level is not necessarily the best thing to do.

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

Amplification in erbiumdoped fibers (EDFs) strongly


depends on signal wavelength. Several techniques for flattening the gain have been proposed [16]. Incorporating a
thinfilm filter with a loss characteristic reproducing the
gain profile for a target point of operation has become
the standard solution for volume production. Unfortunately,
perfect compensation is not achievable with this technique,
and there are some remaining gain differences among the
channels often called ripple. The difference between the
maximum magnitudes of positive and negative deviations
from a straight line fitting the target gain shape in a minimum mean square sense are described by the gain flatness.
For commercial amplifiers with variable gain, the value
of this parameter typically lies in the range from 1.0 to
1.5 dB. In long amplifier chains, even such small spectral gain variations may result in large differences of the
received signal power when launching the channels at equal
power level into the link, which finally leads to unacceptable
performance differences among the received signals. Such
differences are typically avoided by applying the already
mentioned preemphasis technique that adjusts the signal
power levels at the input of a link or an optical multiplex
section in such a way that the optical signaltonoise ratio
(OSNR) at the end of the link is identical for all channels.
As a consequence, there are significant power differences
among the channels along the fiber link. In such a scenario, significant performance degradation or even complete
interruption of data transmission could be caused by a fast
restoration of the average gain.
Gain changes experienced by surviving channels are
illustrated in the upper part of Fig. 1. Assuming that channels marked by blue circles are removed due to a fiber
break and only three channels marked by red circles are surviving, the average gain of the signals changes, although
the gain profile remains unchanged. If the amplifier control drives the amplifier now to restore the initial average
gain, the power of these channels is reduced. Since all cascaded amplifiers in the link will react in the same way, the
power of the surviving channels along the link and at the
receivers will diminish significantly which finally leads to
a significant performance degradation. This can be avoided
by maintaining the gain profile instead of controlling the
average gain.
However, there is an additional source of signal power
variations along the link, namely the power exchange from
channels at smaller wavelength (blue channels) to those at
larger wavelengths (red channels) due to stimulated Raman
scattering (SRS) during propagation in the transmission
fiber. The resulting imbalance of the channel powers is
typically compensated by tilting the amplifier gain spectrum [17]. Since the tilt induced by SRS is substantially a
linear function of the total signal power [18], the gain profile
of the amplifiers has to be adapted quickly in case chan-

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

211

Conservation of gain
Surviving channels

Target gain profile


before and after drop
Average gain
after drop

Gain

Average gain
before drop

Pure gain
control

Wavelength
Compensation of SRS tilt change
Surviving channels

Gain

Power exchange
via SRS before
drop

Tilted spectrum
before drop for
compensation
of SRS tilt

Decrease
of VOA
attenuation
Spectrum after drop with
reduced average inversion
for unchanged VOA setting

Wavelength
Fig. 1 Effect of gain ripples and type of control on channel gain.
The lower diagram shows tilt changes of the gain spectrum required
to compensate for the variation of the SRS induced power exchange
among the channels after channel drop

nels are dropped or added if the channel powers are high


enough to cause significant SRS induced power exchange,
as shown in the lower part of the figure. Implementation of
dynamic Raman compensation has been shown [19]. Applying this technique, the feedforward control has to determine
the pump power required to drive the gain profile of the
amplifier to the new target. Corrections can be introduced
by a feedback control making use of a control channel [20].
Furthermore, the gain level has to be adapted by a variable
optical attenuator (VOA) attenuating all channels equally.

Functional principles
In principle, the feedforward control can act on different
physical parameters to influence the amplifier gain. Most
implementations alter directly the injection currents of the
pump laser diodes in order to adapt the power supplied to
the EDF to the new situation. However, it is also possible to
vary the gain of a variable optical attenuator (VOA) included
in the optical signal path [21]. Typically, this approach will
be combined with the pump power control. Furthermore,

the use of a fill laser has been proposed whose power is


adjusted to keep the total input power into the amplifier
fixed independent of the loss of any channels and thus
ensuring stability of surviving WDM signals [22, 23]. The
following investigations will focus on the first two options,
namely pump power control and VOA adjustment.
For the sake of completeness, it is mentioned here that
strongly inverting the amplifiers has also been proposed [24]
in order to suppress both transient and steadystate signal power fluctuations without additional measures. The
authors are talking about overpumped amplifiers which
already hints to one disadvantage of the solution. In fact,
more than 70 % of the pump power are not absorbed which
might lead to a significant increase of amplifier cost.

Disturbing effects and challenges


Power drops constitute the most critical transient scenario in
optical networks. In contrast to the adding of channels, they
result in most cases from accidental events so that the rate
of the induced power changes cannot be controlled. Therefore, the following investigations focus on power drops as
illustrated in Fig. 2. In all considered scenarios, the power
drop occurs at zero on the time axis.
Immediate reaction to power changes is almost impossible due to the delay introduced by involved electronic
circuits. This leads to intermediate changes of the population probability of the metastable level and results in
changes of the gain profile. Depending on the wavelength of
the channels, they experience a different severity of performance degradation. Gain variations resulting from a delayed
adaptation of the pump power are shown for a single stage
amplifier with pump bypass [25] and a pump wavelength
of 980 nm in Fig. 3. The input power drops by 16 dB. Furthermore, the two frames characterize the transient behavior
for initial input powers of 10 dBm and 25 dBm, respectively. In each frame, several curves showing the gain
variation for different delays have been superimposed [26].
Increasing delays lead to growing magnitude of the gain
variations until a maximum is achieved. This limit is due to
the fact that the steadystate conditions are achieved for the
initial pump powers before the pump power adaptation takes
place. Larger deviations are observed for larger input powers. Furthermore, larger input powers lead to significantly
faster gain dynamics. Thus, even small delays may lead to
almost maximum gain variations at high input powers. For
example, the maximum value of the gain overshoot reaches
90 % of its maximum value for a delay of 43 s for an initial signal input power of 10 dBm. In contrast, the same
delay causes a maximum gain variation of only 12 % of
the maximum value if the signal input power before the drop
amounts to 25 dBm. A peak value corresponding to 90 %

212

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

Fig. 2 Drop scenario with


delayed adjustment of the pump
power by the feedforward
control. The energy level
scheme shows the three lowest
energy levels including the
relevant transitions

of the maximum value is observed for a delay of 870 s.


These observations are summarized in a graphical way in
Fig. 4.
But even in the ideal case of immediate pump power
adaptation and accurate prediction of the required pump
power, gain variations cannot be avoided completely. This
is due to the fact that most amplifiers use at least one pump
with an emission wavelength around 980 nm. When using
such pumps, the third energy level is populated. Transitions
from this energy level to the metastable energy level are not
adapted synchronously to the reduction of the pump power
due to the finite lifetime of this level. Metaphorically speaking, some pump photons are stored in the pump level. This
kind of memory effect leads to a delayed reaction to control

Gain variation [dB]

15

Signal power: 10.0 dBm

10

0.00 ms
0.25 ms
0.50 ms
0.75 ms
1.00 ms
1.25 ms
1.50 ms
1.75 ms
2.00 ms
2.25 ms
2.50 ms

Delay

5
0
0

3
Time [ms]

interactions [27] causing intermediate gain variations. Such


intermediate gain variations can be large enough to strongly
disturb data detection at the receivers.
Default feedforward control techniques assume a linear
relation between the pump power required to maintain the
amplifier gain and the total signal input power [28, 29].
With this assumption, already reasonable transient performance can be achieved. However, the required pump power
also depends on the spectral composition of the input signal.
Thus, gain variations in the order of magnitude of several
decibels may occur.
Robustness of optical networks against power transients
may be affected by additional effects such as spectral hole
burning (SHB) [30] and site dependent pumping (SDP) [31].
These effects are significantly smaller as compared with
the above mentioned effects, but can become important in
chains of amplifiers and have been studied in detail recently.
Furthermore, the gain characteristics of an EDF depend on
temperature. This does not only affect the spectral shape
of the gain, but also affects the pumping efficiency which
again requires to adapt the pump power calculation. However, most commercial amplifier designs for ultralong haul
WDM transmission contain a heating chamber stabilizing
the temperature of the erbiumdoped fiber. Nevertheless,
models describing the dependency of key fiber parameters

15

Signal power: 10.0 dBm


Signal power: 15.0 dBm

Delay

2
0
0

3
Time [ms]

Fig. 3 Temporal gain variations of a single stage amplifier with pump


bypass induced by a power drop of 16 dB and a delayed adaptation of the pump power for equal gain values. Curves showing gain
variations for different delays of the feedforward control have been
superimposed. The amplifier gain is set to 30 dB

Gainvariation[dB]

Gain variation [dB]

Signal power: 25.0 dBm

10

Signal power: 20.0 dBm

Signal power: 25.0 dBm

0
0

0.5

1
Delay[ms]

1.5

Fig. 4 Peak magnitude of gain variations induced by delayed adaptation of the pump power for several input powers measured before the
drop takes place

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

213

photons pin and the total number of outgoing photons pout .


Mathematically, this can be expressed by


pin pout
lin
a
Gsig = exp sig LEDF +
(1)
sat
psig

Sensitivity [dB/mW]

10

with the intrinsic saturation parameter

10

Gain

10

20

sat
=
psig

10.0 dB gain
15.0 dB gain
20.0 dB gain
25.0 dB gain
30.0 dB gain
15

10

10

15

20

Output power [dBm]

Fig. 5 Sensitivity of the amplifier gain to variations of the pump


power versus signal output power for various gain values. The amplifier comprises an intermediate isolator with pump bypass

on temperature have been presented [32] and could be


included in the pump power calculation.
Practical difficulties arise from the varying sensitivity of
the amplifier gain to pump power variations. As shown in
Fig. 5 for an amplifier with intermediate isolator and pump
bypass, this sensitivity defined as the derivative of the gain
versus pump power is subject to huge variations covering
around two decades. For example, a variation of the pump
power by 1 mW leads to a gain change of approximately
0.8 dB at an amplifier gain of 20 dB and a signal output
power of 0 dBm. In contrast, an increase of the pump power
by almost 100 mW results in the same gain variation at an
output power of 20 dBm. Thus, the control has to support a
large variation of the pump power with high setting accuracy
at small power levels.

Mathematical model
In order to provide insight into the impact of the signal and
pump wavelengths on the feedforward control parameters,
an analytical expression providing the required pump power
as a function of the input power is derived. Starting point
of the considerations is the model for two involved energy
levels presented by Saleh [33] that provides accurate results
as long as the saturation by amplified spontaneous emission
(ASE) can be neglected. Commonly, it is assumed that this
condition is fulfilled for gain values up to 20 dB [34]. For
the sake of a compact representation, we make use of the
socalled Giles parameters [35] and photon fluxes indicating the number of photons per time unit are used instead of
power levels.
The fundamental finding from the model of Saleh is that
the gain provided by an erbiumdoped fiber (EDF) of length
LEDF to a signal only depends on some fix or wavelength
dependent parameters and the total number of incoming

EDF
e ,
+ sig

(2)

a
sig

a and e stand for the wavelength dependent


where sig
sig
Giles parameters for absorption and emission at the wavelength of the signal, respectively. The symbol EDF represents the product of the density of the active ions and the
doped crosssectional area divided by the lifetime of the
metastable energy level. This model is linked to the typically
used notation by the quantity

pin pout
2nd
N pop
=
EDF LEDF

(3)

corresponding to the average population probability of the


metastable level which is often also called inversion.
It follows from these equations that the gain remains constant for all signals if the difference of the photon fluxes
does not change. In order to keep the gain at a reference
wavelength ref at a constant level Glin
ref , the difference of the
photon fluxes has to be adjusted to the constant value pc .
pin pout = pc

EDF   lin 
a
L
ln
G
+

= a
EDF
ref
ref
e
ref + ref

(4)

In the following, the amplification of a WDM signal consisting of N sig signals is considered. The required pump
p
energy is supplied by a single pump with photon flux pin .
Since the model only refers to the total number of photons
launched into the fiber, the results are equally applicable to
codirectional and counterdirectional pumping schemes. The
sig
different signals are coupled with a photon flux of pk into
the fiber, and the total number of signal photons provided to
sig, tot
with
the fiber is described by the photon flux pin
sig

sig, tot
pin

N


sig

(5)

pk .

k=1

Furthermore, the wavelength distribution of the signals is


characterized by the normalized numbers
sig

sig

sk =

pk

sig, tot

(6)

pin

Replacing the total input photon flux in (1) by


sig

sig, tot

pin = pin + pin

= pin +

N

k=1

sig

pk ,

(7)

214

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

sig, tot

pin = Sff pin

+ Cff

(8)

describing the dependence between the required pump


power and the signal input power. The coefficients are given
by
sig
N

Sff =

k=1




c

a + e
1 exp ka LEDF + p

k
k
EDF



c
1 exp pa LEDF + p
pa + pe
EDF

50.0% | 32.0 m
52.5% | 24.9 m
55.0% | 20.4 m
57.5% | 17.3 m
60.0% | 15.0 m
62.5% | 13.2 m
65.0% | 11.8 m
67.5% | 10.7 m
70.0% | 9.8 m

5
lin
Normalized slope S ff /G ref

expressing the output fluxes as a product of the input photon fluxes and the corresponding gain according to this
equation, and applying some basic mathematical operations
leads to the linear equation

sig
sk

4
3
2
1
0

1530

1540


1 exp pa LEDF +

pc
EDF


 .
pa + pe

This result confirms that using a linear approach for


determining the required pump power based on measurement data for the input power is useful. However, accurate
results are obtained only as long as the spectral shape of the
input power is similar to the wavelength distribution used
during calibration. Due to the wavelength dependence of
the Giles parameters, the slope Sff depends on the shape of
sig
the input spectrum characterized by sk . Furthermore, the
slope is also dependent on the target gain. This dependence
is introduced in the equation via the parameter pc . Since
the term


c



tgt = exp a LEDF + p a + e
Glin
(9)
k
k
k
EDF k
corresponds to the target gain of the channel at wavelength
k and the exponential
 function in the denominator reprelin
sents the gain Gpump tgt of the pump at the target operating
point, the equation for the slope can be rewritten as
sig
N




sig 
sig


sk Glin
sk Glin
k tgt 1
k tgt
k=1
k=1

 .
Sff =



1 Glin
1 Glin
pump tgt
pump tgt

50.0% | 32.0 m
52.5% | 24.9 m
55.0% | 20.4 m
57.5% | 17.3 m
60.0% | 15.0 m
62.5% | 13.2 m
65.0% | 11.8 m
67.5% | 10.7 m
70.0% | 9.8 m
72.5% | 9.0 m
75.0% | 8.3 m
77.5% | 7.8 m
80.0% | 7.3 m

sig
N

(10)

The introduced approximation does not affect the accuracy of the feedforward control noticeably since the typical
gain of an EDFA stage is significantly larger than 1. According to this equation, the required pump power is governed
by the sum of the contributions of the different channels
weighted by the target gain profile of the EDF.
For a target gain of 20 dB at a reference wavelength
of 1550 nm, the wavelength dependence of the slope is
illustrated in Fig. 6. For this purpose, amplification of a single signal with varying wavelength at constant inversion is
assumed. Since the required pump power is in the order of
magnitude of the signal output power, the slope has been

lin
Normalized slope S ff /G ref

Cff =

1550

1560

1570

Wavelength[nm]

and
pc

Pump wavelength: 1480.0 nm

4
3
2

Pump wavelength: 980.0 nm

1
0

1530

1540

1550

1560

1570

Wavelength[nm]
Fig. 6 Relationship between the slope Sff and the wavelength of a
single signal for different inversion levels and lengths of the fiber,
respectively. The gain at the reference wavelength 1550 nm equals
20 dB. The upper plot shows the slope for a pump wavelength of
1480 nm, whereas a pump wavelength of 980 nm is assumed for the
lower plot

divided by the target gain Glin


ref at the reference wavelength.
The different curves indicate the slope for various lengths of
the EDF and thus different average inversion levels. Obviously, the wavelength dependence is strongly influenced by
the inversion level and therefore also by the gain of the
amplifier.
In contrast to the slope, the offset value Cff of the required
pump power is dependent on the gain only. As shown in
Fig. 7, this parameter increases with growing gain. Furthermore, longer fibers and thus operation at lower average
inversion values leads to larger offset values. For longer
fiber lengths, a linear relationship between the offset and
the logarithmic gain is observed since the pump power is
absorbed almost completely. However, the curves become
strongly nonlinear when operating the amplifier close to
the maximum average inversion that is achievable with the
chosen pump wavelength. The ratio of the offset value to

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

215

18

16

Offset Cff

14

Length

12

10

10

12

14

16

18

20

Gain[dB]
Fig. 7 Relationship between the offset Cff and the gain provided by
the amplifying fiber for a pump wavelength of 1480 nm and different
lengths of the doped fiber

the linear target gain decreases for all fiber lengths with
increasing gain.
For the sake of correctness, please note that the final
conclusion neglects the dependence of the photon energy
on channel wavelength. However, this is justified since this
simplification introduces an error smaller than 2.5 %.

Techniques for compensating wavelength


dependence
As demonstrated in the section above, the wavelength
dependence of the slope Sff essentially corresponds to the
shape of the gain provided by the EDF, whereas the offset Cff is independent of the input spectrum. Therefore, a

Input of stage

Power distribution

Isolator
ATT
EDFA

1st stage

Power

Optimum
noise figure

Monitor

Monitor

Feedback
control

Feedforward
control

all er
sm pow
ut
p
in

EDFA

2nd stage
VOA
attenuation

Fig. 8 Compensation of
wavelength dependence by
adding a spectral filter in front of
the input monitor. The drawing
on the right side illustrates the
power distribution in a two stage
EDFA for a typical amplifier
control designed for optimum
noise figure (dashed curve) and
a control keeping the gain of
each stage at a constant level
(solid curve)

straight forward solution to eliminate the wavelength dependence is to place a filter in front of the input monitor whose
transmission characteristic reproduces the spectral shape of
the target gain of the EDF [36], as shown in Fig. 8. However,
this approach has some disadvantages with respect to amplifier cost. Typically, an unfiltered signal will still be needed
so that three additional optical components are required,
namely a splitter, the filter, and an additional photodiode.
But there are also some drawbacks in view of performance. In most commercial amplifiers, the gain of the
involved amplifier stages is redistributed when changing the
input power, as shown on the right side of this figure. This
does not affect the gain profile noticeably, since it essentially depends on the average population probability of the
metastable level of all gain stages only. In this way, noise
figure degradation at smaller input powers can be avoided.
In contrast, all stages within an EDFA have to be operated a
constant gain irrespective of the input power and the overall
gain when using this technique which finally leads to worse
noise performance at small channel counts. Furthermore,
the sensitivity of the input monitor is degraded since a part
of the signal power in the monitor path has to be branched
off for the second monitor with filter.
An alternative solution makes use of the gain flattening
filter (GFF) that is embedded in the amplifier setup anyway [37]. A suitable amplifier setup comprising two EDF
coils of approximately identical length is depicted in Fig. 9.
Gain flattening and suppression of backward propagating
ASE are achieved by a gain flattening filter and an isolator,
respectively, that are placed between two fiber coils. A single laser diode provides pump power for both EDF coils by
forwarding the residual pump power of the first coil via a
pump bypass to the second coil. Replacing the pump bypass
by a pump splitter [25] is also supported.
Under this approach, a correction term that adds to the
F F  calculated according to the standard
pump power Ppump

small er
w
input po

Constant
gain per stage

Position in EDF

Constant
external gain

10.0 m
12.0 m
15.0 m
20.0 m
25.0 m
30.0 m

216
Fig. 9 Setup suitable for taking
wavelength dependence into
account by measuring the
average attenuation of the GFF

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

Erbiumdoped fiber

Erbiumdoped fiber

Pump bypass

Isolator

Isolator

Gain
flattening
filter
Pump
laser

Monitor
before GFF



FF
FF
lin
Ppump
= Ppump
,
+ pump Pout

(11)

wherein the factor pump is estimated from the detected


average signal attenuation AGFF caused by the GFF. This
average attenuation is determined directly from the measurement values of the monitors in front of and behind the
interstage components.
In order to demonstrate the applicability of this approach
and to reveal some limitations, the required pump power
is determined by means of simulations for a single channel with the wavelength varying in the range from 1530 nm
to 1565 nm. From these results, the average pump power
for the complete wavelength range is computed and finally
the correction factor pump is calculated. Furthermore, the
channel output power is increased in steps of 1 dB from
0 dBm to 15 dBm. Data points shown in Fig. 10 show the
relation between the correction factor and the attenuation
AGFF of the GFF. Obviously, the GFF attenuation is a useful parameter to calculate the variation parameter and, as a
consequence, the correct pump power. However, some limitations of the technique become also apparent from this plot.
There is a very strong correlation at large channel powers,
whereas some spread is observed for smaller channel powers. The latter aspect impacts the suppression of transients
in a drop scenario, but the correlation is still strong enough
for providing a significant improvement as compared with
the standard technique.
A classical design of an EDFA stage has to meet two
fundamental requirements, namely marginal degradation of
noise figure by adding a GFF and almost no increase of
the total pump power. Thus, placing the GFF between two
fiber coils is a preferred solution. Fortunately, such a design
is also favorable in view of the described feedforward control technique. In fact, the technique does not work properly
with a GFF placed directly at the output of the amplifier

Monitor
after GFF

Output
Monitor

stage. Due to the simple mathematical relation between the


attenuation AGFF and the correction factor pump , this technique does not require powerful digital signal processors
(DSPs) and can even be used with an analog control. In
summary, the technique offers a low cost option to compensate for the wavelength dependence of the required pump
power.
Compensating the wavelength dependence for variable
gain profiles requires to adapt the filter shape used in front
of the input power monitor. However, using a tunable filter for this purpose following the approach shown in Fig. 8
exceeds the financial scope available for commercial amplifiers. Based on the finding that the optimum filter shape
should correspond to the gain profile of the amplification
medium, the technique discussed in the following uses the
EDF itself as a means for filtering [38]. Except for one
potentially necessary signal monitor, the technique works
without any additional optical components, but requires a
digital control with sampling periods around 1s and some
calculation unit being able to perform basic mathematical
operations.
Steps performed iteratively by the digital controller are
explained briefly in order to provide a basic understanding

2
pump

technique neglecting wavelength dependence is determined.


The correction term is given by the product of the target
output power and a factor pump depending on the spectral
shape of the input signal. Thus, the pump power set by the
feedforward control is expressed by

1
Variation parameter

Input
Monitor

0
0.0 dBm
2.0 dBm
4.0 dBm
6.0 dBm
8.0 dBm
10.0 dBm
12.0 dBm
14.0 dBm
15.0 dBm

1.5

2
2.5
Attenuation by GFF

3
GFF

Fig. 10 Relationship between the required pump power correction


and the average attenuation caused by the GFF for various signal wavelengths and output powers. The output power has been varied from
0 dBm to 15 dBm in steps of 1 dBm. Due to space limitations, the
legend indicates only some of the output powers

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

217

Fig. 11 Compensation of
wavelength dependence based
on the reaction of the EDF to
changes of the input power

of the technique and are illustrated in Fig. 11. For easier


understanding, it is assumed that the amplifier has reached
steadystate conditions before some channels are dropped
and that the transient event happens between two sampling
instances. During each processing step, the signal power
is monitored at the input and the output of the EDF. Both
values and the current pump power setting are saved in a
memory for being used during the next step. As explained
in section Mathematical model, the power profile of an
amplifier stage is maintained if the difference between the
total photon flux into the doped fiber and the total photon flux out of the doped fiber remains unchanged. This
consideration leads to


p, after
sig, after
sig, after
pin
pout
1 Glin
pump + pin


p, before
sig, before
sig, before
= pin
pout
(12)
1 Glin
pump + pin
with psig representing the total signal flux derived from the
reading of the monitor diodes and with the flux pp of the
pump photons. Additional information added to the indices
specifies during which step the respective parameter value
is measured and whether the flux is directed into the doped
fiber or to the outside. The gain of the pump Glin
pump is
directly linked to the signal gain and can be estimated from
the signal power readings. Thus, the pump power required
to maintain the gain profile after the signal power drop can
be calculated according to the equation
p, after

pin

p, before

=pin


sig, after

pout

1 Glin
pump
sig, after

pin

sig, before

pout

sig, before

+ pout


.

(13)
Adding a term to the expression between the curly brackets induces changes of the gain profile that counteract to the

tilt changes induced by SRS during signal propagation in


the transmission fiber. This term can be expressed by


sig, after
sig, before
SRS pout
pout
,
where SRS denotes a coefficient depending on the Giles
parameters, the parameter EDF and the Raman gain coefficient.
Typically, EDFAs are designed for high conversion efficiencies, since pump lasers still are major contributors to
the total cost of an EDFA and cost for pump lasers goes up
with increasing pump power. Therefore, the value of Glin
pump
can be assumed to be quite small. Consequently, the effect
of this parameter on the pump power calculation is small,
which allows to use a constant value that can be determined
during amplifier calibration or by means of simulations. The
key parameter in this equation is the flux of the signal photons at the output of the EDF for the initial gain profile,
which in general is not known. At this point, the slow reaction [39] of the population probability of the metastable
level to input power changes is helpful. If the time interval between two sampling points is small enough (around
1 s or even slightly more), the gain profile of the EDF
undergoes only minor changes until the first sample of the
total signal output power is taken after the input power drop.
Thus, the total signal power detected by the output monitor represents a good estimate of the target signal output
power. In each step, the new pump power setting is calculated from signal and pump powers determined during the
previous step and currently measured signal powers at the
input and the output of the amplifier.
Although this technique is based on a two level model,
it can also be applied to amplifiers making use of pump
diodes with emission wavelengths around 980 nm by introducing small amendments taking into account pump excited

218

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

Isolator
Erbiumdoped fiber

Delay

Control signal
Input
Monitor

Pump
laser

Fig. 12 The optical fiber placed between the signal monitor and the
first EDF allows to delay the signal so that the pump power can be
adjusted before the power drop becomes effective

increase of the noise figure, this also requires larger amplifier housings and runs counter to the current trend to
smaller amplifier size. In the following, techniques reducing gain deviations by limiting the temporary increase of
the filling level of the reservoir formed by the pump level
are considered that do not require additional optical components and thus avoid this drawback. Techniques for a
single amplifier stage are considered first, whereas control
methods for setups with two cascaded stages are studied
thereafter.
Single stage setup

state absorption (ESA) [40]. Furthermore, it has been verified that this technique can be applied continuously without
starting to diverge.

Timing issues
Delaying the signal before it enters the first EDF helps
to counteract to late reaction of the feedforward control.
Such a holdup of the signal can for example be introduced
by inserting a piece of standard fiber between the coupler of the input monitor and the input of the first EDF,
as proposed in [4] (see Fig. 12). However, the authors of
this document pursued another objective with this proposal.
They conclude that there is no improvement of the transient performance when pumping the EDF at 1480 nm,
whereas adjusting the pump power 2 s before the signal reaches the EDF provides minimum gain excursion
when pumping around 980 nm. In fact, the advance adjustment of the pump power reduces the temporary overshoot
of the population probability of the pump level. But this
technique has a significant drawback, since the additional
fiber has to be at least 400 m long. Besides the small

Glin
sig = exp




a
e
2nd
sig
+ sig
N pop



3rd
a 1 N pop
LEDF .

Signals

EDFA

Signals

Time

Output power

Input power

Drop of
channels

Drop of
channels

Time

Drop of
channels
Zero
period

Time

Population
probability

I13/2

Time

Pump power

Pump

(14)

These two population probabilities are the only parameters in this equation that depend on time t. Thus, their
evolution determines the transient behavior of the amplifier. Unfortunately, both parameters are coupled to the
pump power and cannot be adjusted independently from one
another.
Large input power levels require larger pump powers as
compared with small input power levels in order to keep
the amplifier gain constant. Since large pump powers in
general come along with larger population probabilities of
the pump level, the population probability of the metastable
level will change in case of a drop of channels. Resulting

Feedforward control with zero period

Population
probability

Fig. 13 Drop scenario with


feedforward control making use
of a zero period. The plots on
the left and the right side sketch
the evolution of the population
probabilities of the metastable
energy level and the pump level,
respectively, for the standard
control and a feedforward
control with zero period

The gain profile of an EDFA is substantially determined


by the population probabilities of the involved energy levels. Denoting the population probability of the metastable
2nd and the population probability of the pump
level by N pop
3rd , the gain profile is described on a linear
level by N pop
scale by

I11/2

Time

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

219

from equation (14), the gain of a single surviving channel at


wavelength surv is not altered if the relation



2nd
a (surv ) + e (surv ) N pop
3nd
= a (surv )N pop

(15)

is fulfilled, where

2nd
2nd
2nd 
(t) = N pop
(t) N pop
N pop
before drop
and


3rd
3rd
3rd 
(t) = N pop
(t) N pop
N pop
before drop
stand for the time dependent deviation of the population
probabilities of the metastable level and the pump level,
respectively, from the initial values. In other words, a linear
relation between the variations of the two involved population probabilities is required to keep the gain of a single
surviving channel constant.
When reducing the pump power synchronously to the
drop of the input power, immediately less ions are excited to
the pump level. Furthermore, the rate of transitions from the
metastable level to the ground level also decreases abruptly.
In contrast, the rate of the predominantly nonradiative transitions from the pump level to the metastable level decreases
almost exponentially until the new state of equilibrium is
reached. As a consequence, the population probability of
the metastable level and the gain experience an overshoot.
Minimum overshoots are achieved if the population probability of the pump level reaches as soon as possible its
new steadystage value. These considerations suggest to
interrupt transitions to the pump level completely for some
limited time after the channel drop, which means to turn off

Fig. 14 Gain variations versus


time for different durations of
the zero period. The inset shows
details of the gain directly after
the drop

the pump for a period of time called zero period [41], as


illustrated in Fig. 13. Analogously, the pump power is set to
the maximum value for some limited time in case channels
are added. Transients can be suppressed almost completely
when choosing the duration of the zero period properly. Significant gain variations remain for a very short duration of
around 20 s only, as demonstrated in Fig. 14 for a single
surviving channel and a setup consisting of two cascaded
EDF coils with intermediate pump bypass. The most significant benefit from this technique is that the duration of gain
variations can be reduced by orders of magnitude, but the
reduction of the maximum magnitude to the half of its initial
value is also advantageous. However, this technique is only
useful for commercial applications if the duration of the
zero period yielding optimum results is known in advance
or can be calculated when the drop takes place. Not surprisingly, a constant duration of the zero period turned out to
be not optimum. But fortunately, a simple equation providing a good estimate of the duration yielding minimum gain
variations is available.
Some further insight into the operation of this technique is provided by the parametric representation given in
Fig. 15. At small power levels, amplifier dynamics is mainly
determined by the lifetimes of the energy levels contributing
to signal amplification. Lifetime values of 6.6 s have been
measured for the pump level [42], whereas the lifetime of
the metastable level amounts to around 10 ms [43]. Because
of this large difference, depopulation can be achieved much
faster for the pump level as compared with the metastable
level after a channel drop. Thus, the pump level is depopulated quickly within the first 20 s. During this period, the
population probability of the metastable level is increased
by almost the same number as the population of the pump
level decreases. This leads to a gain overshoot since the data

0.2
0.2

0.15

0.1
0

0.1
0.1
0

0.05

10

20

30

40

50

0.05
Zero period

0.1

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

7000

8000

9000

10000

220

Fig. 15 Parametric representation of variations of the population


probabilities of the metastable level and the pump level for durations
of the zero period ranging from 0.0 s to 40.0 s. The size of the dots
is proportional to the rate of the gain variations. The straight line marks
operating points with constant gain of the surviving channel

points are on the right side of the dashdotted line indicating operating points with constant gain of the surviving
channel. After the population probability of the pump level
has reached its final value, there is some readjustment of
the population probability of the metastable level that does
not affect the pump level. Therefore, there are maximum
overshoots for vanishing zero period, but no undershoots.
2nd becomes
Thanks to the zero period, the change rate of N pop
3rd already during the first
smaller as compared with N pop
microseconds and the operating points are closer to the
dashdotted line. If the pump power is set to the new target
value when the population of the pump level has reached its
final value for the first time (in the example after 11 s at the
upper border of the area labeled tolerance area), the population probability of the pump levels remains at this value and
the population probability of the metastable level goes to its
new steadystate values without any undershoots. As indicated by the size of the dots, the last step takes much longer
as compared to the adjustment of the population probability
of the pump level. The plot also indicates that the control is
quite tolerant to variations of the zero period. For durations
up to 18 s, the trace does not cross the dashed line and thus

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

no undershoots are induced and the maximum magnitude


of the overshoot also does not increase. But strong undershoots are induced if the zero period is significantly too
long. Thanks to this tolerance, wavelength dependence of
the optimum duration of the zero period can be neglected in
practical implementations. Some more details are provided
in Appendix A.
Transient suppression can be further improved by combining both proposed techniques, namely delaying the signal in front of the first EDF and applying a zero period to
the pump power setting. In order to reveal limiting effects,
a larger target gain is chosen in the following and the
loss of the pump bypass is increased. Traces resulting in
minimum magnitude of the respective gain variations are
shown in Fig. 16 for a standard feedforward control, for
both mentioned techniques further reducing gain variations,
and for their combination. Due to the increased interstage loss, some undershoots are already observed when
using the standard control, and the maximum magnitude
of the gain variations amounts to 1.09 dB. These undershoots reduce the efficiency of the zero period technique
which leads to maximum gain variations of 0.74 dB. Additional simulations with various interstage losses confirm
that the magnitude of the undershoots increases continuously with increasing signal loss of the pump bypass.
As a consequence, the efficiency of the zero period technique decreases with increasing bypass loss. In contrast, the
impact on the technique causing a signal delay in front of
the first EDF is smaller and maximum gain variations of
0.43 dB are achievable. When using this technique with
optimum parameter values, the gain of the amplifier first
3rd , subsedecreases very quickly due to the decrease of N pop
quently an overshoot is observed, and finally the gain tends
towards the initial value after experiencing an additional
undershoot. Combining both techniques slightly reduces the
magnitude of the first undershoot as well as the extend of
the overshoot and thus provides a further reduction of the
gain variations to 0.37 dB. Furthermore, the required input
delay is smaller as compared with the solution relying on a
delay only. The presented results suggest that tailoring the
evolution of the pump signal to the dynamical characteristics of both population probabilities should allow to create
a trace that runs even closer to the straight line with significantly smaller gain variations. In fact, such an improvement
is demonstrated in Appendix B.
Two independently controlled stages
Enhancing the characteristics of system components separately is quite often not the most economical solution to
optimize overall performance. Techniques to improve the
gain stability of a single stage turned out to be either technically challenging or to require adding expensive optical

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

221

Fig. 16 Traces for different


control techniques with
optimum setting of relevant
parameter values. As compared
with the results presented in
Fig. 15, the amplifier is operated
at higher gain and increased
intermediate loss. The size of
the circles is proportional to the
rate of the gain variations

0
Initial state
Final state
2

Drop of input power

Ti

Undershoot

10

Signal input
power: 10.0 dBm
12

14
Standard control: 1.09 dB
With zero period: 0.74 dB
Input delay: 0.43 dB
Combined approach: 0.37 dB
2

Standard control

Time

components. Thus, it seems to be favorable to compensate gain variations of a first stage in a multistage setup
by inducing opposite gain variations in a subsequent amplifier stage. A technique working according to this concept is
illustrated in Fig. 17 for a setup consisting of two individually controlled stages enclosing a dispersion compensating
fiber (DCF).
Due to the memory effect introduced by pumping around
980 nm, the gain of a first amplifier stage will experience
some overshoot after a channel drop even if the pump power

With zero period


Pump power

Pump power

Drop of
channels

Drop of
channels

Zero
period

Time

Input delay
Drop of
channels
Delay at
input

Time

10
Combined approach
Pump power

Pump power

16

Drop of
channels
Delay at
input
Zero
period

Time

is adjusted simultaneously to the input power change and the


pump power optimally matches the new input power. Imperfections of the control such as delayed reaction may further
increase the magnitude of the overshoot. During propagation in the subsequent DCF, the signal is delayed so that
the power drop and the overshoot arrive later at the input of
the second EDF coil. Thus, it is possible to adjust the pump
power of this coil before the input power change becomes
effective. If the pump power is adjusted slightly before the
input power changes, the memory is cleared early enough

222

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

Furthermore, some undershoots arise later on. Nevertheless, this dynamical behavior strongly reduces the impact of
transient events on receiver performance.
As indicated by the additional pump power traces in
Fig. 17, the delayed adjustment of the pump power can
be combined with the technique employing a zero period.
Thus, the maximum magnitude of the gain variations may
be halved and the time shift yielding optimum results is
reduced. A more elaborated waveform of the pump signal for the second stage should allow to further reduce the
remaining gain variations of the complete amplifier.

Two individually controlled stages


DCF
EDFA

EDFA

Delay in DCF
Delay of control

1st stage

Input
power
Pump
power

Without zero period


With zero period

Output
power

Pump power splitting

2nd stage

Input
power
Pump
power
Output
power

Adaptation of
pump power
Time

Fig. 17 Individually controlled stages: Compensation of gain variations induced in the first stage by adapting the pump power of the
second stage prior to the power changes at the input of this stage. Additional curves show power evolution when applying a zero period to the
pump power

to reduce of even suppress contributions of the second EDF


to the overshoots. However, the overshoot induced by the
first coil is present in the output signal power without any
damping. The central idea behind the technique is to further
increase the time period between the pump power adjustment and the power drop at the input of the second stage,
so that an undershoot is induced in the gain of the second
stage. If the delay is chosen in an appropriate way, the gain
undershoot of the second stage compensates for the gain
overshoot of the first stage.
The interplay of the two stages is demonstrated in Fig. 18.
For easier representation, a retarded time frame defined by
ret = t  prop

(16)

is introduced, where  prop stands for the delay caused by


signal propagation from the amplifier input to the actual
position. Thus, the power drop always happens at zero on
the respective time axis and effects executed by the different
amplifier stages to given parts of the signal always appear
at the same value of ret . Signal representation using the
time axis as well as the retarded time frame is illustrated in
Fig. 19. As desired, the gain deviations of the two stages
are opposed against each other. However, the compensation
is not ideal leading to a very short needle for ret = 0.

Thanks to the availability of single pump diodes providing fibercoupled pump powers in excess of 700 mW [44],
pump sharing has become a common technique to reduce
amplifier cost. Typically, the splitting ratio is constant since
a fiber based tunable coupler would obscure the economical
benefits arising from a reduced number of pump modules.
However, the strict coupling of the pump powers launched
into different EDFA stages precludes their independent control and entails significant drawback. These are, on the one
hand, increased steadystate noise figures at smaller input
powers [25], and on the other hand, poor transient performance if the power provided by a common pump is
launched into doped fiber coils placed before and after a
component afflicted with delay [26]. Therefore, commonly
no pump splitting is applied to stages surrounding a dispersion compensating fiber (DCF) module and potential for
cost reduction is wasted.
In the following, a technique achieving acceptable transient performance for two coupled EDFA stages with intermediate delay is explained. Again, a setup consisting of two
stages that are separated by a DCF is considered, but the
pump power is now supplied by a single laser diode via
a passive splitter with fix splitting ratio. With the results
obtained for individually controlled stages, adjusting the
pump power after the transient event has reached the first
EDF coil and before it reaches the second EDF coil appears
to be promising. The evolution of the signal power at the
input and the output of both fiber coils as well as the
pump power launched into the fiber coils is illustrated in
Fig. 20. Due to the delayed adaptation of the pump power,
the power of the surviving channel temporarily increases at
the output of the first stage, whereas the gain of the second stages experiences an undershoot. Since the overshoot
and the undershoot are partly compensated by each other,
a quite stable output power of the surviving channel can be
achieved. In contrast to the previous case with individually
controlled stages, the pump power launched into both stages
is adjusted simultaneously and the delay  FF specifies
now the period of time between the pump power adjustment

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

223

Fig. 18 Individually controlled


stages: Representation of the
gain variations of the two
individually controlled and
cascaded stages. No delay has
been applied to the first stage,
whereas there is a negative delay
for the second stage. The inset
shows details of the needle at
zero on the time axis. The dotted
curve shows gain variations
without any delay

0.5
0.2
0.1

0.4

0
0.1

0.3

0.2
10

0.2

10

20

30

0.1

0.1

Gain variation 1st stage


Gain variation 2nd stage
Gain variation amplifier
Gain variation without delay

0.2

and the power drop at the input of the amplifier, i. e. at the


input of the first stage.
Performance data characterizing the control technique
are given in Fig. 21 for three different input powers. The
delay of the interstage device is assumed to equal 100 s.
Each diagram shows the maximum gain variation versus
delay  FF for different values of the splitting parameter split indicating the portion of the total pump power
launched into the first amplifier stage. As expected, the
magnitude of the gain variations increases with growing
input power. Furthermore, the magnitude of the gain overshoots can hardly be influenced at small input power levels
and splitting ratios below 50 %. In contrast, the magnitude
of the gain variations can almost be reduced to the half
of its value without intentional delay at large input powers. Except for small input powers or small splitting ratios,
the delay providing minimum gain variations decreases with
increasing splitting ratio and is almost independent of the

2000

4000

6000

8000

10000

input power. In summary, the dynamical behavior of setups


making use of pump splitting can be improved significantly
by delaying the reaction of the feedforward control. Simulation results show that small splitting ratios are favorable
with respect to amplifier dynamics. On the other hand,
the steadystate noise figure is better at larger values of
split .
In view of output power, greatest benefit from the available pump power is gained with small splitting ratios
split . But small splitting ratios lead to significant noise
figure degradation at small channel count. Since the number of active channels varies significantly during lifetime
of a WDM system, adaptive splitting ratios are desirable. Therefore, a setup having an additional EDF in
the pump path to the second EDF coil has been proposed [45]. At small pump powers, the additional EDF
strongly attenuates the pump power propagating towards
the second EDF coil, so that the pump power launched

Fig. 19 Illustration of signal


representation versus time (left
plot) and when using the
retarded time frame (right side)

Re

5
0
Ti 5
m
e [ 10
m
s]
15

10

]
5
ms
y[
a
l
De

t . 5
t im

ef0
ra 5
m
e [ 10
m
s]
15

10

]
5
ms
y[
a
l
De

224

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

make efficient use of the generated pump power. Since the


adaptation of the absorption of pump power in the additional
EDF is subject to the same dynamics as the EDFs in the
signal path, this setup imposes additional challenges on the
timing of the pump power control.
Using a default feedforward control would lead to significant overshoots in case of a power drop, since the
attenuation of the additional EDF increases only slowly
when reducing the input power. Thus, the time curve of the
pump power has to be adapted to the dynamics of the additional fiber, as shown in Fig. 22. Preferably, the changes
of the attenuation over time are calculated based on a simplified model of the EDF. Implementation of the control
technique becomes quite easy if a digital control architecture is used. Furthermore, the transmission of the EDF
after a given time interval can be calculated by a digital
signal processor (DSP) by making use of the model presented in [46]. In some cases, even analytical descriptions
are possible. For example, the step response of an EDF
can be described with sufficient accuracy by an exponential approximation. With the adapted feedforward control
scheme, degradation of the transient behavior as compared
with a pump splitting based setup without EDF in the pump
path can be completely avoided.
Fig. 20 Setup with pump power splitting: Illustration of the considered drop scenario using a feedforward control for a two stage setup
making use of pump splitting; the pump powers launched into both
stages are reduced simultaneously, but delayed with respect to the
occurrence of the power drop at the amplifier input

into the first EDF is significantly larger as compared with


the pump power reaching the second coil. However, the
attenuation is quite small at large pump powers allowing to

Input power: 12.0 dBm

Gain variation [dB]

3.5

2.5

1.5

Most commercial amplifier setups for WDM applications


comprise variable optical attenuators (VOAs) for static gain
adjustment [47]. In the early times of the deployment,
conventional optomechanical devices with sliding blocks

Input power: 6.0 dBm

10

4.5

Fast control of VOAs

Input power: 0.0 dBm

12

30.0 %
40.0 %
50.0 %
60.0 %
70.0 %

11
10
9
8
7

0.5

50

Time shift [ s]

100

6
5

50

Time shift [ s]

100

50

100

Time shift [ s]

Fig. 21 Setup with pump power splitting: Maximum gain variation versus delay for a two stage setup based on pump power splitting (delay in
DCF: 100 s) for different splitting ratios and initial input powers

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

225

Pump power
second stage

II

Pump power

Fig. 22 Feedforward control


interactions for a setup having
an additional EDF in the pump
path to the second stage

EDF

Noise figure
improvement

Pump power
first stage
Total pump power

Pump power 1st stage

Modified control

Standard control

Modified control

Time

Standard control

Modified control

Time

Time

Power

ATT
EDFA

Power

manner only have been studied [51], but the VOA has also
been included in the feedforward and the feedback control scheme [52]. Furthermore, it has also been proposed
to block the input signal by a VOA placed in front of the
first EDF in case traffic is interrupted. This technique eliminates surges that arise when traffic is reestablished and the
pump has not been turned off [53]. But due to the significant
deterioration of the noise figure, this solution is not well
suited for optical data transmission systems. Furthermore,
it does not support the continuous operation of surviving
channels.
In general, the VOA has the task to correct gain variations
that arise although the pump power is adjusted correctly.
Such deviations might result from delayed reaction of the
feedforward control or the population of the third energy
level (pump level). Figure 23 illustrates the principle of
such a hybrid control technique. Gain excursions caused

or thermooptical attenuators have been used [48]. The


response time of the first type is typically in the range
from 500 ms to 1 s, whereas response times in the millisecond range can be achieved with the latter type. In the
meantime, they have been replaced by devices based on
microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) offering typical
response times around 1 ms [49]. However, faster solutions
with response times below 3 s have been demonstrated.
There are also other technologies offering small response
times. Acoustooptical VOAs with response times of 15 s
have been presented and even setups providing response
times of 200 ns have been developed [50]. Such fast VOAs
become interesting for transient control despite larger cost
and possibly increased polarization dependence. Typically,
the control acts on the pump and the VOAs in order
to compensate for deficiencies of pure pump based solutions. Solutions controlling the attenuation in a feedback
Fig. 23 Feedforward control
reducing duration of the power
transient by making use of a
VOA with high tuning speed

Pump power 2nd stage

Pump power

Standard control

Pump power

Pump power

Total pump power

Time

Time

Ideal case

Gain

Power

EDFA

Time

Surviving
channel

Time

Reality
ATT

Power

Attenuation

Time

Time

Surviving
channel

226

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

Sig. power: 10.0 dBm

Without VOA control

0.0 s
0.5 s
1.0 s
2.0 s
5.0 s

With VOA control

2.5
2
1.5

Delay

1
0.5
0
0.5
0

0.1

50

100

150

200

Sig. power: 25.0 dBm


Without VOA control

0.0 s
0.5 s
1.0 s
2.0 s
5.0 s

With VOA control

0.05

Delay

Closing remarks

0.05
0

50

100

150

zero period to the pump power control, the duration of the


gain variations is significantly reduced.
Despite these promising results, there is a major drawback. The most significant contributions to gain variations
go back to deviations of the population probabilities from
their initial values. In general, such variations affect the
different channels in different ways due to the wavelength
dependence of the Giles parameters. Therefore, a variable
attenuator providing the same attenuation to all channels
cannot equalize the gain of all channels equally well. Thus,
the performance of the hybrid control is significantly worse
if several surviving channels are covering a wide wavelength range.

200

For easier illustration, all concepts have been described and


analyzed in the time domain. However, the concepts can
also be implemented in the frequency domain. For example,
an effect similar to the concept of the zero period can be
achieved by making use of a highpass filter applied to the
pump control signal, eventually followed by a limiter.

Fig. 24 Gain variations when using a fast VOA counteracting to


power transients for initial total signal powers of 25 dBm and
10 dBm. The legend indicates the delay of the adjustment of the
pump power and the VOA attenuation

Conclusions

by the EDF are either precalculated (feedforward control)


or detected (feedback control) by the control circuit, and
the attenuation of the VOA is adjusted accordingly. Assuming a high speed control with zero response time, power
variations of a single surviving channel can be avoided
completely. But in reality, the control signal for the VOA
will be affected by the same delay as the signal controlling the pump power and the VOA attenuation cannot be
adjusted immediately to a new value. Thus, there will be
some remaining power variations even when using a fast
VOA for compensation.
Gain variations resulting from a delayed adjustment of
the pump power and the VOA attenuation are shown in
Fig. 24 for different delays. The total signal input power
before the drop amounts to 10 dBm in the upper diagram,
whereas a small value of 25 dBm is assumed in the lower
diagram. The time constant for the attenuation setting equals
to 1 s. For vanishing delay, the impact caused by the slower
depopulation of the pump level is almost removed completely. In contrast, this kind of hybrid control only slightly
reduces the maximum magnitude of the gain variation at
larger delays. But just like for the technique introducing a

An overview over feedforward control techniques for


erbiumdoped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs) has been given.
Different tasks of the amplifier control, namely conservation of the gain profile under changing input power
conditions and tilt adaptation in order to counteract to the
power transfer by stimulated Raman scattering (SRS), have
been described and effects limiting the efficiency of transient suppression have been considered. Timing issues and
the dependence of the required pump power on the spectral
composition of the input signal have been identified as the
major challenges.
A mathematical model presented in this paper shows that
filtering the input signal with a filter shape reproducing the
transmission characteristics of the amplifier eliminates the
dependence of the required pump power on the spectral
composition of the input signal. Since the straight forward solution based on a special filter in front of the input
monitor comes with increased cost and decreased monitor sensitivity, additional solutions making use of already
present filters have been considered. Whereas one solution
uses the gainflattening filter for gathering information on
the spectral characteristics of the input signal, the other
one employs the erbiumdoped fiber (EDF) itself as filtering means. In contrast to the other solutions, the latter

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

227

stages sharing a common pump have been analyzed. Since


the temporal profiles of the overshoots and the undershoots
are not completely identical, some gain deviations of short
duration are left.
Remaining gain variations can also be reduced by adjusting the attenuation of a variable optical attenuator (VOA)
with sufficiently small response time. However, combined
with the pump power control this method only slightly
reduces the maximum magnitude of the gain variation. But
just like for the technique with zero period, the duration of
the gain variations is significantly shorter. Furthermore, this
technique gives good results for a single surviving channel,
but cannot compensate for the tilt coming along with the
gain variations induced by the doped fibers. Thus, the performance deteriorates with increasing wavelength spread of
the channels.

technique is adaptive and achieves good results at variable gain values. Thus, the solution provides full flexibility with respect to gain redistribution within a multistage
amplifier.
A piece of fiber placed between the input monitor and
the first EDF coil is an efficient means to counteract to a
delayed adaptation of the pump power. Furthermore, this
solution may also counteract to the memory effect introduced by the third energy level of the erbium ions. However,
this approach is not compatible with the request for small
amplifier housing and causes some noise figure degradation.
These disadvantages are avoided by a modified pump power
control turning off the pump for some limited time called
zero period. Timing is also less critical as compared with
delaying the input signal. Unfortunately, the solution is not
equally efficient for all amplifier setups. A detailed analysis
evaluating the temporal changes of the population probabilities of all relevant energy levels illustrates the effect of
this approach on amplifier gain in detail. Further techniques
are possible in cascades of amplifier stages, mainly if two
stages are surrounding an optical device affected by delay.
In brief, the control induces gain undershoots in a latter
stage counteracting to gain overshoots arising in previous
stages. Embodiments for individually controlled stages and

Appendix A: Impact of wavelength dependence on


gain dynamics
Not only the pump power required to stabilize the power
of surviving channels depends on their wavelengths, but
also the qualitative features of gain dynamics. Figure 25

1528.8 nm
1532.7 nm
1536.6 nm
1540.6 nm
1548.5 nm
1552.5 nm
1556.6 nm
1560.6 nm
1563.9 nm

1
2

0.8
4
Initial state
Maximum undershoot

0.6

Final state

0.4
8

0.2
10

0
12

10

Fig. 25 Parametric representation of gain dynamics (left side) and


evolution of gain variations for varying wavelength of a single surviving channel. Due to space restrictions, only every fifth wavelength

12

0.2

1000

2000

3000

4000

is indicated in the legend. Details of the area marked by the dashed


rectangle are shown in the inset indicating the final state and the state
leading to maximum undershoot

228

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

Variation population third level

3rd
pop

[ 10 3 ]

10

12
Standard control: 1.08 dB
With zero period: 0.73 dB
Input delay: 0.43 dB
Modified approach: 0.29 dB
0

Variation population second level

10
2nd
pop

[ 10 3 ]

Fig. 26 Parametric representation of gain dynamics (left side) for the


modified pump power control. The inset shows details of the area
marked by a rectangle

Standard control
With zero period
Input delay
Modified approach

500

demonstrates this dependence for a single surviving channel


at various wavelengths covering the whole Cband making
use of the setup considered in Fig. 16. Among the different wavelengths, only very small differences are observed in
view of the final population probability of the pump level. In
contrast, the final population probabilities of the metastable
level show significantly larger differences. Although the
differences between the initial and the final values are
smaller for longer wavelengths, larger intermediate deviations manifest for these wavelengths. Nevertheless, this
leads to smaller gain variations according to equation (14)
since the magnitude of the Giles parameters decreases with
increasing wavelength after experiencing a peak around
1532 nm.
In addition, not all wavelengths induce undershoots.
Starting with the smallest wavelength, the magnitude of the
undershoots decreases continuously when moving towards
the longer wavelength border of the Cband and vanishes
completely for wavelengths beyond 1543 nm. This behavior becomes more clear when having a look to the inset
on the left side of the figure. In addition to the final
state marked by a dot, also the state corresponding to the
largest magnitude of the gain undershoot (marked by a star)
is shown for each wavelength. Irrespective of the wave3rd is adjusted first before
length of the surviving channel, N pop
2nd
2nd starts to
N pop changes. However, the adjustment of N pop
become noticeable earlier at smaller wavelengths which
finally leads to smaller overall deviations from the initial
state. But before converging to the final state, the population probability of the metastable level first goes through a

1.2
1.08 dB
1
0.8

0.73 dB

400
0.6
0.43 dB
0.4

300

0.29 dB

0.2
200

0
0.2

100

0.28 dB

0.18 dB
0.27 dB

0.4
0.43 dB
0
4 2 0 2

10

15 20

30 50 100 200

4 2 0 2

10

15 20

30 50 100 200 350 500

800

Fig. 27 Modified control of the pump power with periodic pump power adjustment after the zero period. Please note that the time axis has been
compressed at later stages in order to show details. For easier orientation, some pictograms emphasizing the key features of the different pump
power curves have been added

J Opt (September 2016) 45(3):209230

minimum leading to the observed undershoots. As a consequence, the optimum duration of the zero period also
depends on wavelength. However, the tolerance area is
large enough so that a single duration of the zero period
can produce minimum gain variations irrespective of the
wavelength.

Appendix B: Periodic modulation of pump power


Undershoots are limiting the efficiency of the zero period
technique as well as the combined approach. The shape of
the trace within the area marked by an ellipse in Fig. 26 is of
major importance. As already illustrated in Fig. 16, smaller
2nd from its final value forced by
positive deviations of N pop
turning off the pump for some time result in larger undershoots. These undershoots need to be reduced in order to
further diminish the maximum magnitude of the gain variations. The key idea of the modified approach presented
in the following is to induce small periodic increases of
3rd and N
2nd close to their final values. Thus, the trace is
pop
N pop
2nd before movpushed in small steps to larger values of N pop
ing to the final value and the magnitude of the undershoot
becomes smaller. The magnitude of the associated gain variations needs to be inferior to the maximum gain variations
arising during the zero period.
An example for a trace resulting from this approach is
given in Fig. 26. Although the control parameters have not
been fully optimized, the magnitude of the gain variations
has been reduced by 22 % as compared with the combined
approach and equals 0.29 dB. This is achieved by starting
the zero period slightly before the drop reaches the input
of the first EDF and modulating the pump power at a frequency of 500 kHz with decreasing amplitude afterward
before adjusting the pump power to the final value. Clipping ensures positive pump power set values. The plot on
the left side of Fig. 27 displays the applied pump power. As
shown on the right side, the gain undergoes first a peak with
a subsequent local maximum with some superposed small
fluctuations. The following undershoot is slightly larger
than for the standard control, but smaller as compared with
the other approaches.

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