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International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering, Vol 2, No. 7, November 2009

Development of Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifiers

using Photonic Crystal Fibers as Gain Media
Uma R. Rao1, and B. K. Lande2
Research Scholar, Dept. of Electrical Engg., V.J.T.I., Mumbai, India
Asst. Prof., Dept. of Electronics Engg., Shah & Anchor Kutchhi Engg. College, Mumbai, India
Professor & Head, Dept. of Electrical Engg., V.J.T.I., Mumbai, India

AbstractErbium doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs) are the component design. PCFs are showing highly promising
essential components of a highly efficient, long distance performance features when used in optical amplifiers as
optical data link. Their design has been refined to give gain media. The following sections provide information
better performance parameters. In the recent years, a new regarding the research findings of photonic crystal fiber
class of optical fibers known as photonic crystal fibers
(PCFs) is being explored for its suitability as a gain medium
amplifiers and consolidate some of the reported results
in EDFA. The information regarding the progress in this through simulation and experimentation.
field is consolidated and presented in this paper.
Index TermsEDFA, PCF, index guiding, photonic band
gap (PBG), Finite element method (FEM). Photonic crystal fibers are very different in structure as
compared to the conventional optical fibers. They consist
I. INTRODUCTION of a cladding made of photonic crystal structure and the
core is either silica or air. Cladding has symmetrically
Optical communication plays a vital role in achieving arranged air holes running parallel to the axis of the fiber.
global connectivity. At present, it is the technology with The absence of one or several air holes at the center
highest possible data rate. However, the demand for forms a high index core in an index guided (IG) PCF. As
higher data rates on optical networks is ever increasing. the cladding has an effective refractive index much lesser
This has resulted in the development of dense wavelength than the core, propagation can take place by total internal
division multiplexing (DWDM) systems. Signal reflection. On the other hand, an air hole at the center
amplification at suitable transmission distances is gives rise to photonic band gap (PBG) fiber. This makes
essential to make the data decodable at the receiving end the refractive index of the micro structured cladding
in a long distance optical link. Earlier data links used much higher than that of the air core. Hence propagation
repeaters which converted optical power into electrical can not take place by total internal reflection. The
power and back into optical power after amplification. cladding structure prevents the light propagation through
This technique is expensive, slow and difficult to it due to destructive interference and optical energy is
implement at very high data rates that are associated with forced to propagate in the air core. In either case, the
DWDM [1].Optical amplifiers work in the optical domain propagation charecteristics are strongly influenced by the
itself and are associated with several advantages like geometry of the cladding [6, 7].
higher gain efficiency, reduced insertion loss, improved
speed of operation, ease of maintenance etc. [2]. III. INITIAL DEVELOPMENTS
Four types of optical amplifiers that have practical
significance are basically identified. They are: Erbium The earliest reported results analyzing the effect of
Doped Fiber Amplifiers (EDFA), Fiber Raman dielectric periodicity of the host medium in altering the
Amplifiers (FRA), Erbium Doped Waveguide Amplifiers spontaneous emission properties of doped ions can be
(EDWA) and Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (SOA) seen in the experiments by R.F. Cregan et al [8]. They
[1]. EDFAs are the most popular choice for optical have experimentally demonstrated the strong influence of
amplification. They have undergone several design the positioning of the air holes of a PCF on the
refinements to achieve better performance ever since they spontaneous emission patterns using an index guiding
were first reported in 1987 with a gain of 28 dB at a PCF with a pitch, = 2.56 m and an air hole diameter,
wavelength of 1536 nm [3]. Gain as high as 55 dB has d = 0.6 m, fabricated using the facilities at Southampton
been currently achieved [4]. Their designs have been University. Later studies seem to have concentrated more
optimized with respect to choice of gain medium, erbium on applications of photonic crystal fibers in lasers. A.
dopant concentration, host fiber geometry etc. [5]. The Huttunen and P. Torma give a list of papers on PCF
refinement process seems to have reached a saturation lasers [9]. During the past few years, the possibility of
level. using PCFs in erbium doped fiber amplifiers is being
In the past decade, a special class of optical fibers explored [10-17].
known as photonic crystal fibers (PCFs) has become the The mode area in a PCF can be tailored by varying the
focus of active research in the field of optical network two important design parameters: the pitch and the air


International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering, Vol 2, No. 7, November 2009
hole diameter. The index guiding fibers may have very Very recently cladding pumped PCF amplifiers are
large mode field diameter and withstand higher optical also being studied. Cladding pumping makes the pump
power levels without getting affected by heating or non modes propagate in the cladding region near the core and
linear effects. The PBG fibers can concentrate the mode allows several modes to propagate whereas the signal in
field within very small area and enhance the interaction the core is single mode. As the cladding modes
between the field profile and the dopant thus giving a propagate, the interaction between the mode field and the
higher gain for a lower pump power. Unlike a step index dopant ions takes place. Cladding pumping is attractive as
fiber (SIF), the mode profiles for the pump and the signal it eliminates the stringent coupling conditions for the
can be very similar in the PCF. pump diode. In order to get several pump modes
The development of fiber amplifiers using PCFs may supported in the cladding, the cladding structure may be
be viewed under the possibility of using an index guided designed with air hole rings of gradually increasing radii
fiber or a PBG fiber. Each of them can be used either resembling a graded index fiber [14]. However, this may
with EDFAs or with FRAs. The discussion in this paper not be a practical choice due to the complexity in the
is limited to the use of PCFs in EDFAs. fabrication of the fiber.
Another important design aspect is the number of rings
IV. PCFs IN EDFA of the PCF. Increasing the number of rings can increase
the gain as it reduces the mode field diameter (MFD) but
A. Simulation Results the fiber size is also increased [15]. Proper results are yet
Several simulation results are reported for the use of to be established as to find out the optimum number of
PCF in EDFAs. A common approach for PCF EDFA rings. Comparison of EDFA gain versus input pump
simulation is a two step process. The pump and signal power for different pitch values of the PCF with that of
propagation mode profiles are simulated using any one of an equivalent SIF (a = 0.75 m) as per our simulations is
the available simulation techniques. These profiles are shown in fig. 1. The diameter of the air holes in each case
used in propagation rate equations of the EDFA to find is taken as 0.8.
the evolution of gain along the length of the fiber. A comparison of different performance findings
Thomas Sondargand has proposed a honey comb PCF through simulation is presented in Table 1. Pump
working on PBG effect and a triangular PCF working on wavelength in all these simulations is 980 nm. FEM is the
index guiding effect to be used with EDFAs [10].The most commonly used simulation technique to compute
performance of PCF based EDFA and distributed mode field profiles as it is an accurate method which can
feedback lasers with respect to variations in the simulate even air holes of any arbitrary geometry. The
operational parameters is studied through simulations and plane wave expansion (PWE) method is also used by
the results are presented. But the fabrication of such PCFs researchers. Rate equations are solved numerically using
is a challenging task due to the index variation needed for Runge Kutta method.
the core. B. Experimental Findings
As the diameter of the air holes of the PCFs increases, Fabrication of photonic crystal fibers has not yet done
the modes get more and more confined to the fiber core on a very large scale as compared to the SIFs. However,
and the interaction between the doped ions and the mode several results of experimentation with PCFs are reported
profile increases. This results in a lower input power to in the literature. PCFs score high over SIFs, due to their
achieve a target gain as compared to SIF with similar extreme characteristics such as very high or very low
operating parameters. The gain with PCF EDFA can be
higher by a factor of about 3 when the air hole diameter is
about 0.8 [11]. However, there seems to be an optimum
value of pitch to have the highest gain for the same set of
remaining parameters. A very low value of the pitch
reduces the physical dimensions of the PCF and the
signal power fails to get confined to the core where the
dopant concentration is the highest.
A. Cucinotta, F. Poli, S. Selleri, L. Vincetti and M.
Zoboli have reported the effect of varying the dopant
radius on the output gain [12]. They have provided one of
the first and detailed analysis of PBG fiber and a cobweb
fiber to be used in EDFA. PBG fiber has an air core and
hence dopant should be placed outside the radius of the
core hole which makes the strongest part of the mode
field not accessible to the ions for interaction. Instead, Figure 1. Comparison of performance of EDFA using PCFs and SIF
triangular PCFs when doped with Er3+ ions are capable of
giving gains higher than 47 dB due to the overlapping of
the highest concentration of the ions with the strongest
regions of the mode profiles [13]. An integration of
amplification and dispersion compensation using PCFs is
also under consideration .


International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering, Vol 2, No. 7, November 2009


Sr. Signal Pump Fiber Simulation Amp.

Type Design Geometry Reference
No. Wavelength power Length tool gain
1 IG PCF 0.75 m, d= 0. 8 1550 m <1mW -- PWE >15dB [4] 2003

2 PBG 1.67 m, d= 0.41 1560 nm 100mW 8.0 m FEM >7dB [12] 2003

3 IG PCF 2.0 m, d= 1.0 m 1533 nm -- 5.5 m FEM >47 dB [13] 2004

4 Cladding 8 m, 1536 nm 3W 53.4 m FEM 32.7 dB [14] 2006

pumped doped core 7.6 m

mode areas, very high or very low numerical aperture etc. erbium doped aluminosilicate holey fiber, Optics Express
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SIFs a challenging job. Coupling loss between the PCF [6] T. A. Birks, J. C. Knight, and P.St.J. Russell, Endlessly
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1997, pp. 961-963.
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PCF and the telecommunication fiber [16]. photonic band gap guidance of light in air, Science, 285,
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EDFA is done by T. Kogure et al in 2003 [16]. An [8] R. F. Cregan, J. C. Knight, P. St. J. Russell, and P. J.
amplifier with a gain of about 44 dB is reported using IG Roberts, Distribution of Spontaneous Emission from an
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a tuning range in excess of 100 nm. These results are Technology, Vol. 17, Issue 11, Nov. 1999, pp. 2138-2141.
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V. CONCLUSION Zoboli, Amplification properties of Er3+-doped photonic
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