PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP1020969 26.04.2007
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0001020969
Titel Verfahren zur Erzeugung von Licht und Lichtquelle
Anmelder Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., Tokio/Tokyo, JP
Erfinder Katagiri, Yoshitada, Tokyo 163-1419, JP;
Nagaoka, Shinji, Tokyo 163-1419, JP;
Ohira, Fumikazu, Tokyo 163-1419, JP;
Suzuki, Ken-Ichi, Tokyo 163-1419, JP;
Fujiwara, Masamichi, Tokyo 163-1419, JP;
Takachio, Noboru, Tokyo 163-1419, JP
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
DE-Aktenzeichen 60033874
Vertragsstaaten DE, FR, GB
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 13.01.2000
EP-Aktenzeichen 001006550
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 19.07.2000
EP date of grant 14.03.2007
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 26.04.2007
IPC-Hauptklasse H01S 5/50(2006.01)A, F, I, 20051017, B, H, EP
IPC-Nebenklasse H01S 3/23(2006.01)A, L, I, 20051017, B, H, EP   H04B 10/155(2006.01)A, L, I, 20051017, B, H, EP   

Beschreibung[en]

The present invention relates to a light generation method and a light source for outputting a single-mode light, and more particularly, to a light generation method and a light source for outputting a single-mode incoherent light having a low intensity noise and a small spectral bandwidth using a wavelength-tunable optical filter to output a single-mode light having wavelength components in a particular band of a white-light band by obtaining this single-mode light from a white-light having wavelength components over a wide-band in a wavelength domain.

Single-mode light sources are configured to obtain a single-mode light by using an optical filter to spectrum-slice a white-light having an emission spectrum spreading over a wide-band in a wavelength domain. The single-mode light refers to a light showing a uni-modal spectrum distribution around a particular wavelength.

In addition, the white-light refers to a light having continuous spectral components over a wide-band in a wavelength domain and is also referred to as a Gauss light.

A conventional single-mode light source of this kind is typically comprised of a white-light source 81 and an optical filter 90 as shown in Fig. 19, and also has an isolator 82 located in an output section of the white-light source 81 for preventing an unwanted light returning from the optical filter 90. That is, such a light source is comprised of the wide-band white-light source 81 for generating a wide-band white-light, the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 having a particular transmission band, and the isolator 82 for preventing an unwanted light returning from the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 so that a white-light from the wide-band white-light source 81 is filtered when it passes through the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 via the isolator 82.

The white-light source 81 may be comprised of an incandescent lamp, a super luminescent diode (SLD), or an amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) generated from an optical amplifier. The optical filter 90 may be comprised of a dielectric multilayer film filter, an acoustooptical filter, or a grating monochromator.

A white-light from the white-light source 81 has wavelength components over a wide-band in a wavelength domain. The single-mode light source for obtaining a single-mode light by spectrum-slicing a white-light using the wavelength-tunable optical filter is a mode-hop-free light source that replaces a wavelength-tunable single-mode laser light source, and is conventionally used not only for optical measurements but also as a simple light source for telecommunications systems based on wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM). The spectrum slicing refers to transmitting a white-light through the wavelength-tunable optical filter to obtain a single-mode light having wavelength components in a particular narrow band of the white-light band.

Fig. 20 shows a mechanism for obtaining a single-mode light by using a filter to spectrum-slice an arbitrary center transmission wavelength of a wide-band white-light. As shown in this figure, the spectral shape of a sliced single-mode light reflects a transmission wavelength characteristic of the filter, but the use of an optical filter having a tunable transmission wavelength enables the center transmission wavelength to be controlled using only the optical filter.

In addition, some single-mode light sources are comprised of a combination of a white-light source and an optical filter to spectrum-slice a single-mode light of a selected wavelength from a wide-band white-light. The wide-band white-light source may be comprised, for example, of an amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) generated from an optical fiber amplifier typically including an erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA). Since a spectrum of an ASE from an optical fiber amplifier generally has no fine structure, a single-mode light can be obtained which has an arbitrary center transmission wavelength &lgr;c selected by the optical filter. In addition, an arrayed waveguide grating (AWG) filter can be used to simultaneously obtain single-mode lights of a plurality of wavelengths.

The conventional single-mode light sources, however, have the following problems: since the optical filter filters a white-light occurring in a wide wavelength domain, the output of the resulting single-mode light is very small. Furthermore, the minimum value of the wavelength spectral bandwidth of the single-mode light obtained and the extinction ratio of lights generated in the overall wavelength spectrum except for its portion corresponding to a center transmission wavelength are limited by the performance of the optical filter used. In addition, since an emission phenomenon in the wavelength domain of a light transmitted through the optical filter is a probabilistic event in terms of the emission in the overall wavelength spectrum, the single-mode light obtained has intensity noise that is likely to increase with decreasing transmission wavelength spectral bandwidth of the optical filter.

That is, the wide-band white-light source 81 of the conventional single-mode light source is comprised of a SLD or an ermium-doped optical fiber amplifier (EDFA) which provides high outputs. If, however, a white-light from such a light source is spectrum-sliced, the output of the resulting single-mode light is very small. If, for example, a white-light uniformly output at 10 mW over a 100-nm band is spectrum-sliced at a bandwidth of 0.1 nm, the output of the resulting single-mode light is 10 µW at most.

Thus, an attempt is made to amplify such a faint single-mode light using an optical amplifier, but simple amplification does not induce a sufficient emission and a spontaneous emission amplified by the optical amplifier occurs in a band around the single-mode light, thereby significantly degrading the spectral purity of the single-mode light. Such degradation causes the signal-to-noise ratio in both optical communication and measurements systems.

For the optical communications systems based on the WDM technique of multiplexing signals into different wavelengths in the wavelength domain, a light source has been desired to have a low intensity noise and a high spectral purity sufficient to restrain wavelength components other than those of the signal light, in order to prevent the signal-to-noise ratio from being degraded

In addition, the conventional single-mode light source for spectrum-slicing a white-light slices a narrow-band single-mode light from a wide-band light source, so that it has an inherent intensity noise within a short observation period as shown below.

If arbitrary beams are observed over a definite period of time (T), the probability PT(m) of finding (m) photons in this period is expressed by the following equation: P T m = 0 x p m v W v d v where p(m, &ngr;) denotes a probability density function for the probability of finding (m) photons in an independent population having an average number of photons (&ngr;) detected in the period of time (T) and W(&ngr;) denotes a probability density function for the average number of photons (&ngr;). The population means photons that belong to an identical emission phenomenon in a ring. Counting statistics for such a population conforms to the Poisson distribution, so that the following equation is established. P m v = v m / m ! exp - v

A chaotic light source such as a wide-band light source is a class of such identical populations each of which meets the poisson distribution in equation (2). However, in photon counting statistics limiting the wavelength band, the probability density function W(&ngr;) for the average number of photons (&ngr;) of all populations attenuates as shown by the following expression: W v = 1 / &mgr; exp - v / &mgr; where (µ) designates the average of the average number of photons of different populations. Thus, the photon counting statistics in short observation period for beams obtained by spectrum-slicing the white-light is expressed as follows: P T m = 0 x v m m ! exp - v 1 &mgr; exp - v &mgr; d v = &mgr; m ( 1 + &mgr; ) 1 + m On the other hand, in a long observation period, counting photons for all spectra results in a fixed average at any point of time because all populations are subjected to counting. Consequently, the probability density function is a delta function &dgr; (&ngr;-µ) even for the chaotic light and conforms to the Poisson distribution.

The photon counting statistics shown by Equation (4) indicates that the photon flow rate substantially fluctuates among the short observation periods, that is, indicates the presence of intensity noise. Thus, since the current optical communication systems using the method for directly modulating and detecting optical signals identify data based on the amount of photons counted in terms of time slots corresponding to bits, it cannot accommodate a large intensity noise such as one shown by Equation (4).

A light generating method and a light source comprising the features summarized in the preambles of claims 1 and 7, respectively, are known from document SASAMORI H; ISSHIKI K; ADACHI A; WATANABE K; YAMASHITA J; ITO K: "+22dBm tunable narrowband incoherent ring light source with a high-power erbium-doped fiber amplifier" OSA TRENDS IN OPTICS AND PHOTONICS, Vol. 5, 1996, pages 139-141, XP009050289CA, USA.

In the method and light source according to this document, an acousto-optic frequency shifter is disposed in the optical path. The frequency shifter shifts the frequency of the light each time the light passes through the frequency shifter. Therefore, laser oscillation cannot occur even with a high round-trip gain. This enables a high output power such as +22dBm to be achieved.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention has been provided in view of these problems, and it is an object thereof to provide a light generation method and a light source that are preferable in obtaining a single-mode light having a high output, a small wavelength spectral bandwidth, and a low intensity noise.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a stabilized single-mode light source that can generate an incoherent single-mode light at an arbitrary wavelength which has a small spectral bandwidth and a restrained intensity noise.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a light generation method and a light source that are preferable in obtaining a high-output single-mode light without degrading the spectral purity of the single-mode light.

According to the invention, these objects are achieved by the method according to claim 1 and the light source according to claim 7.

With the configuration according to the invention, if a transmission wavelength characteristic of an optical filter is defined by T(&lgr;), a wavelength spectrum &rgr;(&lgr;) of a single-mode light passing through the optical filter a large number of times is expressed as follows: &rgr; &lgr; = T &lgr; T &lgr; T &lgr; T &lgr; Thus, a single-mode light can be obtained that has a much smaller wavelength spectral bandwidth than a light obtained after a single passage through the optical filter.

Furthermore, the light generation method according to the present invention uses a simple configuration consisting of a set of an optical amplifier and a filter to increase outputs while reducing the wavelength spectral bandwidth by allowing a single-mode light obtained by filtering a white-light to propagate a large number of times through a path having the optical amplifier and filter alternatively connected together. The optical amplifier also works as a white-light source covering a wide-band.

The optical amplifier can be used as a wide-band white-light source because an optical gain medium of the optical amplifier enters an inverse distribution state to obtain a gain required for optical amplification, whereby a spontaneous emission, which is low when excited, is amplified during propagation through the optical amplifier before output. Such a light is referred to as an "amplified spontaneous emission (ASE)" and characterized by its wide-band unique to the optical amplifier and its outputs higher than those of light emitting diodes.

To implement this method, the present invention constructs an optical ring by allowing an output from the optical amplifier to enter the optical filter, where it is filtered and transmitted, and by branching a light obtained and finally feeding one of the split lights back to the optical amplifier. An isolator or the like is inserted into the optical ring constructed, so that the effect set forth in Claim 1 can be obtained because the light undergoes the effects of optical amplification and filtering a large number of times while circulating through the optical ring in one direction. Since, however, a light output is obtained from a branching device provided in the optical ring, a wavelength spectrum &rgr;(&lgr;) of a single-mode light obtained shows a reduced width compared to Equation (5). That is, if the transmission wavelength characteristic T(&lgr;) of the optical filter is used and an intensity change rate per circulation through the optical ring is defined as (&ggr;) : &rgr; &lgr; = T &lgr; + &ggr;T ( &lgr; ) 2 + &ggr; 2 T &lgr; 3 + = T &lgr; 1 - &ggr;T &lgr; then the wavelength spectral bandwidth is substantially affected by the intensity change rate (&ggr;). In general, when the intensity change rate is close to 1 where divergence occurs, Equation 6 provides, at the center transmission wavelength (the wavelength at T = 1), a wavelength spectral bandwidth gradually approaching zero. Specifically, if T(&lgr;) is a Lorentzian transmission function and a full width at half maximum (FWHM) is 0.1 nm, the line width of an output light is 0.01 nm at &ggr; = -0.05 dB. This is a sufficient reduction in wavelength spectral bandwidth because typical optical filters such as grating filters or dielectric multilayer film filters have an FWHM of 0.1 nm or less.

When the gain per circulation becomes excessive, the optical ring exceeds its oscillation threshold to start laser oscillation due to its configuration similar to that of a ring laser oscillator. Such laser oscillation, however, has a problem that it is so sensitive to fluctuations in optical-ring length at a wavelength level as to generate a large intensity noise when the oscillation state rapidly changes to a non-oscillation state. Thus, the present invention controls the circulation gain of the optical ring to prevent such laser oscillation. Specific means for controlling the circulation gain include, for example, means based on gain control of optical amplification used for the optical ring and means based on adjustments of attenuation provided by a variable optical attenuator inserted into the optical ring.

Furthermore, the present invention preferably employs an optical amplifier operating in a gain saturation to achieve a reduction in light intensity noise.

Intensity noise in a single-mode light obtained by filtering a white-light using an optical filter is essentially a quantum optical element associated with an emission process. That is, the light intensity is equivalent to the number of photons counted per unit time, and a probability PT(m) of detecting (m) photons if a light is observed over a finite period of time (T) can be written as follows: P T m = 0 x p m v W v d v where p(m,&ngr;) denotes a probability of detecting (m) photons in an independent population having an average number of photons (&ngr;) detected in the period of time (T) and W(&ngr;) denotes a probability distribution function for the average number of photons (&ngr;) of all populations. The population refers to a minimum unit for an independent group of emission events that are correlated to one another. In such a population, photon counting statistics for the probability p(m, &ngr;) of detecting (m) photons follows the Poisson distribution, so that the following equation is established: P m v = v m m ! exp - v For a single-mode light obtained by filtering a white-light using an optical filter, events randomly occur in which a light is emitted within the transmission wavelength band of an optical filter, whereby an average distribution of chaotic populations is given for the chaotic light as follows: W v = 1 &mgr; exp - v &mgr; where µ is the average of the average number of photons of the different populations. Thus, the probability PT(m) of detecting (m) photons during observations over the definite period of time (T) is expressed as follows: P T m = 0 x v m m ! exp - v 1 &mgr; exp - v &mgr; d v = &mgr; m ( 1 + &mgr; ) 1 + m Consequently, the probability PT(m) behaves similarly to a chaos light. The chaotic light refers to a light such as a blackbody radiation. Although the results of measurements based on temporal averaging for the wavelength domain indicate that such a single-mode light shows a stable intensity distribution based on the ergodic theorem, the light shows intensity noise in a time domain. The ergodic theorem refers to a case in which the average of the populations equals the temporal average.

Such fluctuations in the number of photons (that is, intensity noise) can be reduced using the gain saturation of optical amplifiers. The document "Amplitude squeezing in a semiconductor laser using quantum nondemolition measurement and negative feedback," Y. Yamamoto, N. Imoto, and S. Machida, Phys. Rev. A, Vol.33(5), pp. 3243-3261 (1986) clarifies that fluctuations in the number of photons in a single-mode laser light similar to a coherent light can be reduced using the gain saturation of optical amplifies. This technique, however, squeezes quantum fluctuations in a laser light based on the ability to reduce quantum fluctuation for one of the two conjugate physical opinions according to the minimum uncertainty relation, at the sacrifice of increase in the other quantum fluctuation, and no attempt is made to apply this technique to the spectrum slices having a large intensity noise. As shown in Fig. 18, however, an optical-limiter effect of restraining an excess light intensity using the gain saturation of optical amplifiers is effective in reducing intensity noise.

That is, the stabilized single-mode light source according to the first aspect of the present invention preferably has the optical amplifier which operates in a gain saturation introduced into the optical ring to restrain laser oscillation. The gain saturation determines a fixed light output (a saturation output) independently of an input light intensity (a), as shown in Fig. 18. Thus, by appropriately optimizing the saturation output, the upper limit (msat) of the number of detected photons (m) can be reduced below a laser oscillation threshold mth for an individual population to hinder laser oscillation.

Consequently, if the above optical amplifier operates in a gain saturation, intensity noise is substantially restrained because a light passes through the optical amplifier with gain saturation a large number of times according to the configuration of the present invention.

Furthermore, the light generation method according to the present invention preferably uses optical filter control means as are defined in claim 6.

With this configuration, if the optical filter is used for filtering and when a center transmission wavelength is provided as an instructive value, the optical-filter control means reads the data of center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters from the data-storage device controls the optical filter based on the read data so that the center transmission wavelength of the optical filter be equal to the center transmission wavelength provided as the instructive value. As a result, a single-mode light which has a center transmission wavelength equal to the center transmission wavelength provided as the instruction value can be obtained.

As is defined in claims 9 and 10, the light source according to the present invention uses a semiconductor optical amplifier as the optical amplifier operable in a gain saturation.

The semiconductor optical amplifier, as used herein, is structured to have a double heterojunction that can realize an inverse distribution upon a current injection as in semiconductor lasers and to have an optical waveguide formed therein. The semiconductor optical amplifier is also structured to preclude end-surface reflection in order to prevent laser oscillation, so that a light is input from one end surface and output from the other end surface after being amplified while propagating through the optical waveguide. In such a semiconductor optical amplifier, the density of carriers contributing to the inverse distribution varies at a high speed depending on the input light intensity. As a result, such a semiconductor optical amplifier reacts even to components with fast variations in input light intensity and amplifies them.

Another feature of the semiconductor optical amplifier having the above characteristic is that due to a limit on the capacity with which injected electrons are stored as carriers contributing to the inverse distribution, a large optical input cannot be subjected to optical amplification based on a sufficient induced emission, resulting in a large gain saturation.

The use of the semiconductor optical amplifier having these characteristics enables light intensity noise to be substantially restrained. Furthermore, noise can be restrained in high frequency bands. Thus, a single-mode light with low noise can be obtained in a frequency band to which the field of the optical communications systems or the like is directed (<40 GHz).

In addition, the polarization of the light input to the semiconductor optical amplifier may be controlled by means of a polarization controller.

Due to its structure similar to that of a semiconductor laser, the semiconductor optical amplifier has a minor polarization-dependent gain characteristic. For a linearly polarized light, such a semiconductor optical amplifier shows a gain characteristic dependent on a polarization direction. Thus, if the polarization direction of an input light does not align with that of the semiconductor optical amplifier, the nominal gain decreases. With a configuration using the above semiconductor optical amplifier, a light passing through the semiconductor optical amplifier is output as one similar to a linearly polarized light despite a depolarized state of the input light, whereby such polarization affects reducing the net gain.

The polarization controller mentioned above is capable of controlling polarization and thus can compensate for the polarization dependency to allow the semiconductor optical amplifier to provide a high gain, thereby improving the effect of gain saturation and increasing outputs to provide a stable and high-output single-mode light.

Furthermore, the light source according to the present invention may have another optical amplifier placed in a transmission section of the above optical filter in order to improve the light intensity, which is limited, if the semiconductor amplifier operates in a gain saturation. The another optical amplifier may be comprised of a rare-earth-element-doped optical-fiber amplifier or a semiconductor optical amplifier.

Such a configuration enables a high-output single-mode light despite the use of a semiconductor optical amplifier that operates at a large gain saturation at the sacrifice of an absolute gain.

Preferably, the configuration defined in claim 13 is provided.

With such a configuration, by calibrating a center transmission wavelength of a disc-shaped dielectric-multilayer-film optical filter used as the optical filter, a single-mode light with a center transmission wavelength equal to the indicated wavelength can be obtained despite the simple configuration and without adverse effects of an environment temperature used for the light source.

As is defined in claim 14, an ultrasonic motor can be used as means for varying the viewing-angle of the disc-shaped optical filter.

The ultrasonic motor generates a transverse wave (a wave vibrating in a direction perpendicular to a propagating direction) on a surface to carry an object in contact with the surface on a wave front of the traveling wave based on frictional force. Such a motor is characterized by its small size, high drive force, and ability to hold an object at the same position by friction force.

This configuration does not only enable the above disc-shaped optical filter and its control system to be compactly assembled but also maintains optimal conditions under sequential control, by reading from the data-storage device, transmission wavelength data comprising the viewing-angle of the disc-shaped optical filter stored in the data-storage device so that the center transmission wavelength of the optical filter equals a center transmission wavelength provided as the instructive value, and by setting the center transmission wavelength at an optimal value, although temperature varies. In addition, if the temperature varies, then it is monitored and based on the read transmission wavelength data comprising the viewing-angle of the disc-shaped optical filter, the viewing-angle of the optical filter can be corrected to obtain a center transmission wavelength equal to the instructive value. This configuration stably provides a single-mode light having a center transmission wavelength equal to the indicated wavelength.

The configuration as is defined in claim 15 enables the center transmission wavelength of the optical filter to be switched at a high speed within a range of speeds at which the frequency of the electrical oscillator is controlled, thereby allowing the center transmission wavelength of a single-mode light to be promptly set at this speed depending on a timing with which the instructive value is received.

As the optical filter is inserted into the optical ring including the optical amplifier, bands in which spontaneous emission occurs are limited to within the band of the optical filter. Thus, all populations are subjected to photon counting even during a short observation time. Consequently, the average of the average photon flow rates of the populations is fixed regardless of the observation time. The probability density function W(&ngr;) approaches a delta function, and even for a spectrum slice circulating through the optical ring while being attenuated, the probability density function PT(m) for the photon counting statistics shows the Poisson distribution, as shown in Fig. 7B.

If the gain of the optical amplifier is not saturated, the probability density function converges on zero but does not reach exact zero despite an infinite value of the photon flow rate. Thus, there is a probability that a photon flow rate equal to or larger than an oscillation threshold of the optical ring occurs and that the rate meets a wavelength required for resonance with the optical ring as well as polarization conditions to lead to laser oscillation, as shown in Fig. 7A. Since in a laser oscillation state, the average photon flow rate is fixed independently of the population, the photon counting statistics for all populations shows the poisson distribution, as shown in Fig. 7B. When an oscillation mode grows from a population, the extension of the probability density function for the photon counting statistics for all populations is smaller than that for a noise wave.

Such a laser oscillation state, however, is difficult to sustain for a long time due to fluctuations in the optical ring (for example, fluctuations in fiber length). Thus, the oscillation state rapidly changes to a non-oscillation state to cause a large intensity noise. In the non-oscillation state, the individual populations compete again, and one dominant population enters the laser oscillation state to generate a similar intensity noise. Such intensity noise caused by laser oscillation substantially obstructs optical communication systems.

A light circulating through the optical ring while being attenuated has its band width reduced due to passage through the optical filter a number of times. When the filter transmission function is defined as T(&lgr;) and a net loss per circulation is defined as (&ggr;), a full transmission function Teff(&lgr;) is expressed as follows: T eff &lgr; = T + &ggr;T 2 + &ggr; 2 T 3 + = T / 1 - &ggr;T If T is a Lorentz transmission function and the full width at half maximum is 0.1 nm, the spectrum width of an output light is 0.01 nm at &ggr; = -0.05 dB. Even for such a spectrum slice of a reduced width, the photon counting statistics follows the Poisson distribution.

Further advantageous developments of the invention are defined in the dependent claims.

The above and other objects, effects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following description of embodiments thereof taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

Fig. 1 shows a first embodiment of a light generation method and a light source, the first embodiment not being an embodiment according to the present invention;

  • Fig. 2 shows a second embodiment of a light generation method and a light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention;
  • Fig. 3 shows a third embodiment of a light generation method and a light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention;
  • Fig. 4 shows a configuration of a disc-shaped optical filter;
  • Fig. 5 shows a configuration of a disc-shaped optical filter;
  • Fig. 6 shows data for the optical filter indicating center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters;
  • Figs. 7A and 7B show photon counting statistics for stabilized noise waves;
  • Fig. 8 shows a fourth embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention;
  • Fig. 9 shows a fifth embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention;
  • Fig. 10 shows a sixth embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention;
  • Fig. 11 shows a seventh embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention;
  • Fig. 12 shows an eighth embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention;
  • Fig. 13 shows a ninth embodiment of light generation method and a light source, the ninth embodiment not being an embodiment according to the present invention;
  • Figs. 14A and 14B show a configuration of a wavelength-tunable optical filter;
  • Fig. 15 shows a configuration of a wavelength-tunable optical filter;
  • Figs. 16A and 16B show filtering characteristics of the wavelength-tunable optical filter;
  • Fig. 17 shows characteristics of the wavelengths of lights output from an optical amplifier and the wavelength-tunable optical filter;
  • Fig. 18 describes an intensity noise reduction mechanism using gain saturation of the optical amplifier;
  • Fig. 19 describes a mechanism for filtering a wide-band white-light using the optical filter to obtain a single-mode light; and
  • Fig. 20 shows a conventional single-mode light source.

Embodiments of the present invention will be described below with reference to the drawings.

(First Embodiment)

Fig. 1 shows a first embodiment of a light generation method and a light source. This first embodiment is not an embodiment of the invention, but is an example useful for understanding the invention. The light generation method and light source according to the first embodiment are comprised of a white-light source 1, isolators 2 and 6, disc-shaped optical filters 3, 7, a polarization controller 4, a semiconductor optical amplifier 5, filter control circuits 8, 9, and data-storage devices 10, 11.

A white-light output from the white-light source 1 and having wavelength components over a wide band on a wavelength spectrum passes through the isolator 2 and is then filtered by the disc-shaped optical filter 3. A light transmitted through the filter 3 is input to the semiconductor optical amplifier 5 having its polarization plane controlled by the polarization controller 4. The optical amplifier 5 operates in a gain saturation. An output from the amplifier 5 is filtered by the disc-shaped optical filter 7 via the isolator 6 to generate a single-mode light having a small spectral bandwidth and high outputs. Polarization control by the polarization controller 4 corresponds to control of the polarization plane of the light input to the semiconductor optical amplifier 5, thereby so as to obtain a maximum gain from the amplifier 5. If the white-light source 1 and the semiconductor optical amplifier 5 are independent of polarization, the polarization controller 4 may be omitted.

Upon reception of center transmission wavelength instructions (d), the disc-shaped optical filters 3 and 7 are independently controlled by the corresponding filter control circuits 8, 9 so that their center transmission wavelengths equal instructive values indicated in the center transmission wavelength instructions (d). That is, the filter control circuit 8 reads data for the disc-shaped optical filter 3 indicating center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters, from the data-storage device 10 with this data stored therein. The circuit 8 subsequently uses a viewing-angle detection angle b1 obtained by detecting a viewing-angle of the disc of the optical filter as well as a temperature t1 to calculate a viewing-angle so that its center transmission wavelength equals the corresponding instructive value. The circuit 8 then sends a viewing-angle control signal a1 to the optical filter so as to equalize the viewing-angle with a calculated value. The disc-shaped optical filter 3 is controlled in this manner.

Likewise, the disc-shaped optical filter 7 is controlled using the filter control circuit 9 by using data from the data-storage device 11 storing data of center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters as well as a viewing-angle detection signal b2 and a temperature t2 to calculate a target viewing-angle, and sending a viewing-angle control signal a2.

Fig. 4 shows a configuration of the disc-shaped optical filter 3,7. A disc-shaped filter 31 in a main body filters an incident light in a wavelength domain by allowing collimated beams (parallel lights) emitted from an optical fiber 34 to enter the disc perpendicularly or almost perpendicularly to a disc surface, and allowing a transmitted light to enter another optical fiber 36. The disc-shaped filter 31 has marks 38 applied to its outer periphery and which are detected to determine a position through which the collimated beams are allowed to pass. A typical example of such mark detection means is a method for using a light emitting diode (LED) 32 as a light source and detecting, below the diode 32, a change in a light irradiated portion caused by the mark 38 to determine a viewing-angle&THgr; as positional information. This method is implemented by a rotary encoder 32a. The disc-shaped filter 31 has its center transmission wavelength tunable depending on the viewing-angle &THgr;, so that it rotates the disc around its rotation axis to vary the viewing-angle &THgr; and thus the center transmission wavelength. Means for rotating the disc may be an ultrasonic motor 30 that can be formed to be very small.

Fig. 5 shows the structure of a filter section of the disc-shaped filter 31. A function for filtering wavelengths is based on a wavelength selection function of an optical resonator 37 consisting of a layer called a "wedge layer 38" that is located between high-reflectivity layers (HR) 39. The wedge layer 38 has a thickness almost half an effective wavelength, which is determined taking into consideration a refractive index with which a light passes through a medium. The high-reflectivity layers 39 have a thickness one fourth of the effective wavelength as well as different refractive indices and are alternatively laminated. In such a film structure, the wedge layer 38 of thickness (h) is formed in a substrate of SiO2 or the like linearly or almost linearly relative to the viewing-angle&THgr; to enable the center transmission wavelength to be filtered in proportion or almost proportion to the viewing-angle&THgr;. An antireflection coating 40a is applied to a rear surface of the substrate 40 to prevent undesirable reflection from the substrate.

With such a configuration, if the viewing-angle&THgr; of the disc is calibrated as a function of a center transmission wavelength using the temperature as a parameter and this data is stored in the data-storage devices 10, 11, as shown in Fig. 6, and when a center transmission wavelength is provided as an instructive value, then a temperature can be measured at a location near the installed disc-shaped filter to calculate an optimal value.

The above first embodiment allows a transmitted light obtained by filtering a white-light using the optical filter 3 to pass through the set of the semiconductor optical amplifier 5 and the optical filter 7 in order to increase outputs while reducing the wavelength spectrum. Larger effects, however, can be obtained by allowing the light to pass through a large number of sets of the semiconductor optical amplifier and the optical filter.

(Second Embodiment)

Fig. 2 shows a second embodiment of a light generation method and a light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention. The light generation method and light source according to the second embodiment are comprised of an optical ring consisting of the semiconductor optical amplifier 5, an isolator 2, the disc-shaped optical filter 3, another optical amplifier 22, an optical power divider 24, an optical attenuator 23, and the polarization controller 4 so that a single-mode light can be obtained from the optical power divider 24.

A single-mode light is obtained by circulating lights generated by the semiconductor optical amplifier 5 and the optical amplifier 22, through the optical ring as seeds. That is, the semiconductor optical amplifier 5 and the optical amplifier 22 have effects similar to those of the white-light source 1 in the first embodiment. The attenuator 23 controls a circulation gain so as to prevent laser oscillation in the optical ring. As regards this, if the semiconductor optical amplifier 5 has a high gain, the optical amplifier 22 may be omitted.

Upon reception of the center transmission wavelength instruction (d), the disc-shaped optical filter 3 is controlled by reading data for the disc-shaped optical filter 3 indicating center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters, from a data-storage device 13 with this data stored therein, and using a viewing-angle detection signal b3 and a temperature t3 to calculate an optimal viewing-angle in order to generate a viewing-angle control signal a3, as in the first embodiment.

With such a configuration, despite its simplicity, a filtered single-mode light can be efficiently amplified while reducing the wavelength spectrum, thereby obtaining a single-mode light having higher outputs and a smaller spectral bandwidth than the single-mode light in the first embodiment.

(Third Embodiment)

Fig. 3 shows a third embodiment of a light generation method and a light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention. The light generation method and light source according to the third embodiment are comprised of an optical ring consisting of the semiconductor optical amplifier 5, the isolator 2, an acoustooptical filter 26, the optical amplifier 22, the optical power divider 24, the optical attenuator 23, and the polarization controller 4 so that a single-mode light can be obtained from the optical power divider 24. Such a configuration is the same as that of the second embodiment, except for the acoustooptical filter 26.

The acoustooptical filter 26 is comprised of a dielectric waveguide formed using as a material an electrical engineering crystal that utilizes a phenomenon in which the refractive index varies with a voltage and of an electrode formed in the waveguide and allowing electric signals within a microwave frequency band to be superposed together. In the acoustooptical filter 26, upon external application of an AC electric signal, the refractive index is spatially modulated in such a way as to correspond to the frequency of the signal. The use of the periodicity of such a spatial modulation can be used to filter a light having a wavelength corresponding to the frequency of an electric signal.

According to the third embodiment, the relationship between the center transmission wavelength of the acoustooptical filter 26 and the frequency of electric signals is stored in a data-storage device 29 as data of center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters. Upon reception of the center transmission wavelength instruction, this data is read, and an electrical oscillator 27 is controlled by an electrical-oscillator control circuit 28 so that the center transmission wavelength of the acoustooptical filter equals the instructive value. An electric signal output from the electrical oscillator 27 is applied to the acoustooptical filter 26 to obtain a single-mode light having a center transmission wavelength equal to the instructive value.

Since the center transmission wavelength of the acoustooptical filter 26 is promptly controlled by means of the frequency of the applied electric signal, the center transmission wavelength of the single-mode light can be switched at a much higher speed (~µs) than that in the first or second embodiment.

(Fourth Embodiment)

Fig. 8 shows a fourth embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention. The stabilized single-mode light source according to this embodiment is comprised of a semiconductor optical amplifier 41 which operates in a gain saturation an optical filter 42, an optical power divider 43, and an optical attenuator 44, all of which are connected together in the form of a ring, wherein a light output (a single-mode light) is externally obtained from the optical power divider 43.

The optical attenuator 44 is comprised, for example, of a ND filter that utilizes attenuation of absorption by a metal thin film, and adjusts the attenuation so that a mode circulating through the optical ring is equal to or smaller than a laser oscillation threshold. The optical filter 42 is generally a dielectric multilayer film filter but may be comprised of a combination of a fiber grating and an optical circulator.

The semiconductor optical amplifier 41 increases light intensity in accordance with the following differential equation: d dz I z = g I - &agr; I z where I denotes light intensity, (g) denotes a gain factor, (&agr;) denotes a loss to a waveguide, and (z) denotes a propagation distance. On the other hand, the gain factor is expressed as follows: g I = g 0 / 1 + I / I sat where go indicates a gain factor without a light input and Isat (= h&ngr; · msat) indicates saturated light intensity.

A light incident on the semiconductor optical amplifier is amplified during propagation, whereas its gain decreases with increasing light intensity as shown in Equation 13. When the gain equals the waveguide loss (&agr;), a net gain becomes zero. Subsequently, the light intensity does not increase. The light intensity Ic is expressed as follows: Ic = g 0 / &agr; - 1 I sat If the length L of the semiconductor optical amplifier is so small that the light intensity does not reach Ic, the output light intensity of the semiconductor optical amplifier varies depending on the input light intensity. If, however, L is sufficiently large, the semiconductor optical amplifier has a fixed output light intensity Ic irrespective of the input light intensity.

(Fifth Embodiment)

Fig. 9 shows a fifth embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention. The stabilized single-mode light source according to this embodiment is comprised of an erbium-doped optical-fiber amplifier acting as a wide-band white-light source (EDFA) 45, the optical filter 42, the semiconductor optical amplifier 41 which operates in a gain saturation, the optical power divider 43, and the optical attenuator 44, all of which are connected together in the form of a ring, wherein a light output (a single-mode light) is externally obtained from the optical power divider 43.

The optical filter 42, the EDFA 45, and the semiconductor optical amplifier 41 may be arranged in this order. In addition, the EDFA may be comprised of two sections having the optical filter 42 located therebetween.

The EDFA 45 is characterized by its outputs larger than spontaneous emissions from the semiconductor optical amplifier 41 and enables a wavelength to be selected from a wide wavelength range. In addition, by independently controlling the output from the EDFA 45 and the optical attenuator 44, the input light intensity of the semiconductor optical amplifier 41 can be controlled while keeping the net loss to the optical ring constant. This function is convenient in keeping constant the net loss that directly affects the spectral bandwidth in order to regulate the optical ring without the need to change the spectral bandwidth. Consequently, the configuration of this embodiment can compensate for the variation of the characteristics of the semiconductor optical amplifier 41 to optimize the optical ring.

According to the configurations of the fourth and fifth embodiments shown above, the wavelength of the output light (single-mode light) is selected and fixed by the optical filter 42. An optical filter capable of varying the selected wavelength is required for varying the wavelength of the output light (single-mode light). In a sixth and a seventh embodiments, which are shown below, an example of the configuration of the fourth embodiment shown in Fig. 8 is shown in which a wide-band continuous wavelength-tunable filter is used instead of the optical filter 42. This example is similarly applicable to the fifth embodiment shown in Fig. 9.

The continuous wavelength-tunable filter is shown in the sixth embodiment as a disc-shaped wavelength-tunable optical filter comprised of a dielectric multilayer film filter with a circularly changed center transmission wavelength as described in document Y. Katagiri et al., "Synchro-Scanned Rotating Tunable Optical Disc Filter for Wavelength Discrimination", IEEE Photonics Technology Letters, IEE Inc. New York, vol. 10, no. 3, 1998, pages 400 to 402, and in the seventh embodiment as an acoustooptical wavelength-tunable optical filter.

(Sixth Embodiment)

Fig. 10 shows a sixth embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention. The stabilized single-mode light source according to this embodiment has a sweep wavelength-tunable filter module 50 including the disc-shaped wavelength-tunable filter 51, instead of the optical filter 42 in the fourth embodiment.

The sweep wavelength-tunable filter module 50 is comprised of the disc-shaped wavelength-tunable filter 51, a DC servo motor 52 for rotating the filter 51, and a PLL circuit 53 for controlling rotation of the filter 51, and sweeps a selected wavelength in synchronism with an external clock 54 input to the disc-shaped wavelength-tunable filter 51. The rotation of the disc-shaped wavelength-tunable filter 51 must be sufficiently slower than the circulation through the optical ring. Since a typical rotation speed is 200 rps at most, a stable output light can be obtained while preventing attenuated circulation of a light from being affected by the rotation speed.

In addition, the semiconductor optical amplifier 41 has different gains depending on the selected wavelength, so that the light source includes a gain control section 55 synchronizing with the external clock 54, for controlling the gain of the semiconductor optical amplifier 41 in synchronism with switching of the selected wavelength. To control the gain, for example, the value of a bias current injected into the semiconductor optical amplifier 41 is controlled.

Although this embodiment has been described in conjunction with the example in which the disc-shaped wavelength-tunable filter is used as a continuous wavelength-tunable filter, a linear wavelength-tunable filter comprised of a dielectric multilayer film filter with a linearly changed center transmission wavelength may be used and linearly moved.

(Seventh Embodiment)

Fig. 11 shows a seventh embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention. The stabilized single-mode light source according to this embodiment has a sweep wavelength-tunable filter module 60 including an acoustooptical wavelength-tunable optical filter (AOTF) 61, instead of the optical filter 42 in the fourth embodiment.

The sweep wavelength-tunable optical filter module 60 is comprised of the AOTF 61 for selecting a wavelength depending on the frequency of an applied RF signal, a driver 62 for applying a RF signal to the AOTF 61, and a sweeper 63 for sweeping the frequency of a RF signal. The module 60 sweeps the selected wavelength synchronously with an external clock 54 input to the sweeper 63. Since the sweep speed of the AOTF 61 is very high due to its dependence on an electric circuit, it must be set taking into account the time required for circulation through the optical ring. If the sweep speed becomes higher than the circulation speed, the selected wavelength is changed before a noise wave has sufficiently circulated through the optical ring, thereby making it difficult to restrain intensity noise. The gain control section 55 is similar to that in the sixth embodiment.

(Eighth Embodiment)

Fig. 12 shows an eighth embodiment of a stabilized single-mode light source, this embodiment being an embodiment according to the present invention. The stabilized single-mode light source according to this embodiment is characterized in that the wavelength-tunable filter 42 in the fifth embodiment shown in Fig. 9 is replaced with an array waveguide grating filter (AWG) 71 to obtain single-mode lights of a plurality of wavelengths at a time. The semiconductor optical amplifiers 41, the optical power dividers 43, and the optical attenuators 44 correspond to different wavelengths obtained by the AWG 71 by means of splitting. The AWG 71 is further used as an optical merger to merge lights of corresponding wavelengths together and then to input the merged light to the EDFA 45.

The AWG 71 is comprised of an input waveguide, a first fan-shaped slab waveguide, a waveguide array consisting of a plurality of waveguides each having a sequentially larger length, a second fan-shaped slab waveguide, and an output waveguide, all of which are connected in this order. The AWG 71 functions as a merger/splitter.

A wide-band white-light output from the EDFA 45 is split into a plurality of wavelengths &lgr;1, &lgr;2, &lgr;3, &lgr;4. That is, a plurality of bands pass through the AWG 71. Since the bands have corresponding intensity noises that are not correlated to one another (that belong to different populations), they are individually input to semiconductor optical amplifiers 41-1 to 41-4 with gain saturation. Part of a light passing through each of the semiconductor optical amplifiers 41-1 to 41-4 is branched to the exterior via a corresponding one of the optical power dividers 43-1 to 43-4, while the remaining part is input to a corresponding one of the subsequent optical attenuators 44-1 to 44-4. A light passing through each of the optical attenuators 44-1 to 44-4 is input to a predetermined port of the AWG 71 and merged with one port before being input to the EDFA 45.

By arranging the optical attenuators 44-1 to 44-4 so as to correspond to each splitting channel, laser oscillation can be prevented even at particular wavelengths based on the dependence of the gain on the wavelength, thereby obtaining generally equal light outputs at all wavelengths.

In addition, in each of the above fourth to eighth embodiments, an optical isolator may be placed at an appropriate position for defining a light propagation direction in the optical ring.

(Ninth Embodiment)

Fig. 13 shows a ninth embodiment of a light generation method and a light source. The ninth embodiment is not an embodiment of the invention, but is an example useful for understanding the invention. According to the ninth embodiment, a plurality of wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 are used to output a single-mode light having wavelength components over a particular band of a white-light band by obtaining this light from a white-light having wavelength components over a wide band in wavelength domain.

This light source is comprised of optical amplifiers 80, 100 that are ermium-doped optical-fiber amplifiers, wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 that are disc-shaped optical filters, a disc rotating motor 99 for rotating a disc-shaped filter of the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90, a disc rotating motor 119 for rotating a disc-shaped filter of the wavelength-tunable optical filter 110, and an optical-filter control section 130 for outputting rotation angle instruction signals to the disc rotating motors 99, 119 to control the transmission bands of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 as shown in Fig. 13. A white-light from the optical amplifier 80 is filtered on passing through the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90, the optical amplifier 100, and the wavelength-tunable optical filter 110 in this order.

The optical-filter control section 130 is composed of a CPU for controlling calculations and the entire system based on control program a ROM 134 for storing the control programs of the CPU 132 in predetermined areas beforehand, a main memory 136 for storing data read from the ROM 134 or the like as well as calculation results required for calculation processes executed by the CPU 132, a peripheral-equipment interface 138 for communicating data outputs to the disc rotating motors 99, 119, an input device 140 consisting of a keyboard, a mouse, etc. for enabling data inputs as a human interface, a graphic interface 132 for converting display data stored in a particular area of the main memory 136 into an image signal and outputting it, an output display 134 for displaying a screen based on the image signal, a portable storage media drive 136, and a mass storage device 138. These devices 132 to 142 are connected together via a bus 149 so as to transmit and receive data, wherein the bus acts as a signal line for transferring data.

The main memory 136 has a VRAM that is a particular area for storing display data for display on an output display 144, and the VRAM is independently accessible from the graphic interface 142 and the CPU 132. The graphic interface 142 sequentially reads display data from the VRAM with a predetermined cycle starting with a leading address, and converts read display data into an image signal to output it to the output display 144.

Next, a configuration of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 will be described with reference to Figs. 14 to 16. Figs. 14 and 15 show the configuration of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110, and Fig. 16 shows a filtering characteristic of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110.

Since the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 are configured to have identical functions, only the configuration of the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 will be explained and the description of the wavelength-tunable optical filter 110 will be omitted.

The wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 is a disc-shaped optical filter having a predetermined transmission bandwidth and a circularly changed center transmission wavelength, as shown in Fig. 14. The optical filter 90 carries out filtering by varying the center transmission wavelength depending on the rotation angle of the disc-shaped filter to allow a light to enter a disc surface at a fixed position thereof to pass through in a rotation axis direction.

The disc-shaped filter of the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 is comprised of a glass layer 91 consisting of SiO2 and acting as a substrate layer and a filter layer 92 deposited thereon and having a circularly changed center transmission wavelength. The filter layer 92 is comprised of a typical dielectric multilayer film comprised of a high-reflectivity layer 92a having a fixed thickness along a circumferential direction, a wedge layer 92b laminated thereon and having a thickness varying in the circumferential direction (the thickness increases in proportion to an increase in central angle between 0 and &pgr;, while decreasing in proportion to an increase in central angle between &pgr; and 2&pgr;), and a high-reflectivity layer 92c having a fixed thickness along the circumferential direction. The transmission wavelength and the transmission bandwidth are determined by the structure of the filter layer 92, and in particular, the center transmission wavelength is determined by the thickness of the wedge layer 92b of the filter layer 92. A disc surface opposed to the glass layer 91 is covered with a wide-band anti-reflection coating.

The disc-shaped filter 91 has a filtered light enter its surface on the side of the filter layer 91 at a fixed position of the surface and also has a plurality of marks 93 circularly provided on its outer periphery at predetermined intervals, as shown in Fig. 15. The optical filter control section 130 uses an optical reader (not shown) to read the marks 93 to control the viewing-angle of the disc-shaped filter.

The disc-shaped filter of the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 has a filtering characteristic such as one shown in Fig. 16 and shows a Lorentzian spectrum profile. The center transmission wavelength and the rotation angle of the disc-shaped filter have a generally linear relationship.

Referring back to Fig. 13, the ROM 134 stores data of center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters, the data being used to determine the transmission bandwidths of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 and comprising different center transmission wavelengths of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 associated with corresponding rotation angles of the disc-shaped filters.

The CPU 132 is comprised of a microprocessing unit MPU or the like, and to control the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110, the CPU 132 activates a corresponding control program stored in a predetermined area of the ROM 134 to execute processing required for controlling the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110.

In this control processing, when a center transmission wavelength is input from the input device 140 or the like as an instructive value of the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110, the data of center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters is read from the ROM 134, and a rotating angle instruction signal is simultaneously output to the disc rotating motors 99, 119 based on this data so that the center transmission wavelength of the transmission band of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 equals the center transmission wavelength provided as the instructive value.

Next, operation of the ninth embodiment will be described with reference to Fig. 17. Fig. 17 is a graph showing characteristics of the wavelengths of lights output from the optical amplifier 100 and the wavelength-tunable optical filter 110.

First, when a center transmission wavelength is input from the input device 140 or the like as instructive value of the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110, the optical-filter control section 130 reads from the ROM 134 the data of center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters, and simultaneously outputs rotation angle instruction signals to the disc rotating motors 99, 119 based on this data so that the center transmission wavelength of the transmission bands of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 equals the center transmission wavelength provided as the instructive value. Based on the input rotation angle instruction signal, the disc rotating motors 99, 119 rotate the disc-shaped filters of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 to equalize the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 with the center transmission wavelength provided as the instructive value.

Once the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 has been determined, the optical amplifier 80 outputs a white-light containing a spontaneous emission, which is first filtered by the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90. Thus, since components in the white-light band other than those in a particular band around the center transmission wavelength are filtered, a light transmitted through the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 has only the components in the particular band around the center transmission wavelength.

Then, the light transmitted through the wavelength-tunable optical filter, 90 is amplified by the optical amplifier 100 operating in a gain saturation and filtered by the wavelength-tunable optical filter 110. After this amplification, the light transmitted through the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 contains the spontaneous emission amplified by the optical amplifier 100, but this spontaneous emission is filtered by the subsequent wavelength-tunable optical filter 110. As a result, wavelength components in the white-light from the optical amplifier 80 other than those in a predetermined transmission band around the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 are filtered, while the wavelength components in the predetermined transmission band around the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 are amplified.

Then, the light transmitted through the wavelength-tunable optical filter 110 is output as a single-mode light. The single-mode light is obtained by carrying out processing comprising such amplification and filtering at least once.

In this manner, this embodiment is comprised of the optical amplifiers 80, 100 and the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 100 having a predetermined transmission bandwidth and a predetermined center transmission wavelength so that a white-light from the optical amplifier 80 is filtered by the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90, so that a light transmitted through the wavelength-tunable optical filter 90 is amplified by the optical amplifier 100, and so that an amplified light from the optical amplifier 100 is filtered by the wavelength-tunable optical filter 110 to obtain a light transmitted through the wavelength-tunable optical filter 110, as a single-mode light. Accordingly, wavelength components in the white-light from the optical amplifier 80 other than those in a predetermined transmission band around the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 are filtered, while the wavelength components in the predetermined transmission band around the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 are amplified, thereby providing a high-output single-mode light without degrading the spectral purity of the single-mode light.

In addition, according to this embodiment, the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 are each a disc-shaped optical filter having a predetermined transmission bandwidth and a circularly changed center transmission wavelength; when a center transmission wavelength is provided as instructive value, the optical-filter control section 130 reads from the ROM 134 the data of center transmission wavelengths versus control parameters of optical filters, and controls the rotation angles of the disc-shaped filters of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 based on the read data so that the center transmission wavelength of the transmission bands of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 equals the center transmission wavelength provided as the instructive value. Consequently, the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 can be varied at a high speed despite the very simple configuration, thereby not only enabling the size and costs of the conventional filter module to be substantially reduced but also enabling the center transmission wavelength of the wavelength-tunable optical filters 90, 110 to be varied with timings required by the system.

The stabilized single-mode light source according to the present invention can easily generate, at an arbitrary wavelength, an incoherent single-mode light having a small wavelength spectral bandwidth and restrained intensity noise.

In particular, the wavelength of a single-mode light can be selected from a wide wavelength range when the light source is comprised of an optical fiber amplifier acting as an optical amplifying medium to output a wide-band white-light and a semiconductor optical amplifier having gain saturation. In addition, by independently controlling the excitation level of the optical-fiber amplifier and attenuation provided by the optical attenuator, the light source can compensate for the variation of the characteristics of the semiconductor optical amplifier to optimize an optical ring without the need to change the spectral bandwidth.

Furthermore, since wavelength components of a spontaneous emission other than those in a particular band are filtered, while the wavelength components in the particular band are amplified, a high-output single-mode light can be obtained without degrading its spectral purity.

In addition, a high-output single-mode light can be obtained using a single wavelength-tunable optical filter, thereby enabling the filter module to be thin enough to be mounted on a board.

Furthermore, the center transmission wavelength of the optical filter can be varied at a high speed despite the very simple configuration, thereby not only enabling the size and costs of the conventional filter module to be substantially reduced but also enabling the center transmission wavelength of the optical filter to be varied with timings required by the system.


Anspruch[de]
Lichterzeugungsverfahren zur Ausgabe eines Einmoden-Lichtbündels durch Filtern eines Weißlichtbündels mit Wellenlängenkomponenten über ein breites Band in einem Wellenlängenbereich, wobei das Verfahren folgendes aufweist: einen Schritt zum Verwenden eines optischen Verstärkers (5; 41; 41, 45) zur Erzeugung des Weißlichtbündels; einen Schritt zum Verwenden eines optischen Filters (3; 26; 42) zum Filtern des durch den optischen Verstärker (5; 41; 41, 45) verstärkten Lichtbündels; einen Schritt zum Verwenden eines optischen Leistungsteilers (24; 43), um ein durch das optische Filter (3; 26; 42) durchgelassenes Lichtbündel in zwei Lichtbündel aufzuteilen; einen Schritt zum Bereitstellen eines optischen Wegs, durch den eines der durch den optischen Leistungsteiler (24; 43) erzielten Lichtbündel zu dem optischen Verstärker (5; 41; 41, 45) zurückgeführt wird; und einen Schritt zum Erzielen des Einmoden-Lichtbündels als das andere der durch den optischen Leistungsteiler (24; 43) erzielten Lichtbündel, wobei das Verfahren gekennzeichnet ist

durch einen Schritt zum Anordnen des optischen Wegs, um einen optischen Ring auszubilden, und

durch einen Schritt zum Verwenden eines optischen Abschwächers (23; 44), um eine Umlaufverstärkung in dem optischen Ring einzustellen, um eine Laser-Oszillation zu verhindern.
Lichterzeugungsverfahren nach Anspruch 1, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Verstärker einen optischen Halbleiterverstärker (5; 41) aufweist. Lichterzeugungsverfahren nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Verstärker (5) in einer Verstärkungssättigung arbeitet. Lichterzeugungsverfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß das Verfahren ferner einen Schritt zum Verwenden einer Polarisationssteuerungseinrichtung (4) aufweist, um die Polarisation des zu dem optischen Verstärker (5) zurückgeführten Lichtbündels einzustellen. Lichterzeugungsverfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß das Verfahren ferner einen Schritt zum Verwenden einer optischen Filtersteuerungseinrichtung (12, 13; 27 bis 29) aufweist, um die zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge des optischen Filters (3; 26) zu steuern. Lichterzeugungsverfahren nach Anspruch 5, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß die optische Filtersteuerungseinrichtung (12, 13; 27 bis 29) eine Datenspeicherungseinrichtung (13; 29) zum Speichern von Daten einer zentralen Transmissionswellenlänge im Verhältnis zu Steuerungsparametern des optischen Filters (3; 26) aufweist, um die zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge des optischen Filters (3; 26) zu bestimmen, wobei, wenn eine zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge als ein Anweisungswert vorgesehen wird, die optische Filtersteuerungseinrichtung (12, 13; 27 bis 29) die Daten aus der Datenspeicherungseinrichtung (13; 29) liest und das optische Filter (3; 26) auf der Basis der gelesenen Daten steuert, so daß die zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge des optischen Filters (3; 26) der als dem Anweisungswert vorgesehenen zentralen Transmissionswellenlänge gleichkommt. Lichtquelle zur Ausgabe eines Einmoden-Lichtbündels durch Filtern eines Weißlichtbündels mit Wellenlängenkomponenten über ein breites Band in einem Wellenlängenbereich mit: einem optischen Verstärker (5; 41; 41, 45) zur Erzeugung des Weißlichtbündels; einem optischen Filter (3; 26; 42) zum Filtern des von dem optischen Verstärker (5; 41; 41, 45) verstärkten Lichtbündels; einem optischen Leistungsteiler (24; 43), um ein durch das optische Filter (3; 26; 42) durchgelassenes Lichtbündel in zwei Lichtbündel aufzuteilen; und einem optischen Weg, durch den eines der von dem optischen Leistungsteiler (24; 43) erzielten Lichtbündel zu dem optischen Verstärker (5; 41; 41, 45) zurückgeführt wird, wobei das Einmoden-Lichtbündel als das andere der von dem optischen Leistungsteiler (24; 43) erzielten Lichtbündel erzielt wird, dadurch gekennzeichnet,

daß der optische Weg einen optischen Ring bildet, und

daß der optische Ring einen optischen Abschwächer (23; 44) aufweist, um eine Umlaufverstärkung in dem optischen Ring einzustellen, um eine Laseroszillation zu verhindern.
Lichtquelle nach Anspruch 7, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Weg einen optischen Isolator (2) aufweist. Lichtquelle nach Anspruch 7 oder 8, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Verstärker einen optischen Halbleiterverstärker (5; 41) aufweist. Lichtquelle nach einem der Ansprüche 7 bis 9, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Verstärker (5) in einer Verstärkungssättigung betreibbbar ist. Lichtquelle nach Anspruch 9, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß die Lichtquelle ferner eine Polarisationssteuerungseinrichtung (4) aufweist, um die Polarisation des zu dem optischen Halbleiterverstärker (5) zurückgeführten Lichtbündels einzustellen. Lichtquelle nach einem der Ansprüche 7 bis 11, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß die Lichtquelle ferner einen auf der Transmissionsseite des optischen Filters (3; 26) angeordneten anderen Verstärker (22) aufweist. Lichtquelle nach einem der Ansprüche 7 bis 12, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß das optische Filter (3) ein planares scheibenförmiges Filter (31) aufweist und ein paralleles Lichtbündel, das durch das scheibenförmige Filter (31) senkrecht oder nahezu senkrecht zu dessen Oberfläche durchläuft, auf eine derartige Weise filtert, daß die zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge verändert wird, indem als eine Variable ein Sichtwinkel um eine Rotationsachse des scheibenförmigen Filters (31) verwendet wird;

wobei der Filterungseffekt des scheibenförmigen Filters (31) von einem dielektrischen optischen Vielschichtfilmbandtransmissionsfilter (37) mit einer Hohlraumschichtdicke, die proportional oder im wesentlichen proportional zu dem Sichtwinkel ist, vorgesehen wird,

wobei die Lichtquelle ein Sichtwinkelerfassungsmittel (32, 32a) beinhaltet, um den Sichtwinkel durch Erfassen einer Marke (38), welche auf dem scheibenförmigen Filter (31) aufgeschrieben ist, zu bestimmen,

wobei Daten einer zentralen Transmissionswellenlänge im Verhältnis zu Steuerungsparametern des optischen Filters (3) in einer Datenspeicherungseinrichtung (13) gespeichert werden, indem als Variable der Sichtwinkel und eine in der Nähe des scheibenförmigen Filters (31) gemessene Temperatur verwendet werden,

wobei, wenn eine zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge als ein Anweisungswert vorgesehen wird, die Daten aus der Datenspeicherungseinrichtung (13) gelesen werden und der Sichtwinkel des scheibenförmigen Filters (31) gesteuert wird, so daß die zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge des scheibenförmigen Filters (31) dem Anweisungswert gleichkommt, und

wobei die in der Nähe des scheibenförmigen Filters (31) gemessene Temperatur erfaßt wird, um den Sichtwinkel des scheibenförmigen Filters (31) in konstanter Weise feinabzustimmen, so daß die zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge des scheibenförmigen Filters (31) dem Anweisungswert gleichkommt.
Lichtquelle nach Anspruch 13, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß ein Mittel zur Steuerung des Sichtwinkels des scheibenförmigen Filters (31) einen Ultraschall-Motor (30) aufweist. Lichtquelle nach einem der Ansprüche 7 bis 12, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß das optische Filter (26) ein akustooptisches Filter ist, um die zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge in Abhängigkeit von der Frequenz eines elektrischen Oszillators (27) zu steuern,

wobei Daten einer zentralen Transmissionswellenlänge im Verhältnis zu Steuerungsparametern des optischen Filters (26) in einer Datenspeicherungseinrichtung (29) gespeichert werden, indem die Frequenz als eine Variable verwendet wird, und

wobei, wenn eine zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge als ein Anweisungswert vorgesehen wird, die Daten aus der Datenspeicherungseinrichtung (29) gelesen werden und die Frequenz des elektrischen Oszillators (27) zur Steuerung des akustooptischen Filters gesteuert wird, so daß die zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge des akustooptischen Filters dem Anweisungswert gleichkommt.
Lichtquelle nach einem der Ansprüche 7 bis 15, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Verstärker (41; 41, 45) in einer Verstärkungssättigung betreibbar ist, und daß die Dämpfung des optischen Abschwächers (44) auf eine derartige Weise einstellbar ist, daß eine durch den optischen Ring zirkulierende Mode einen Wert aufweist, der kleiner als eine oder gleich einer Laseroszillationsschwelle ist. Lichtquelle nach Anspruch 16, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Verstärker einen optischen Faserverstärker (45) zur Erzeugung des Weißlichtbündels eines breiten Bands und einen in einer Verstärkungssättigung betreibbaren optischen Halbleiterverstärker (41) aufweist, wobei der optische Faserverstärker (45), das optische Filter (42) und der optische Halbleiterverstärker (41) in dieser Reihenfolge in der fortschreitenden Richtung des durch den optischen Ring zirkulierenden Lichtbündels angeordnet sind. Lichtquelle nach Anspruch 16, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Verstärker einen optischen Faserverstärker (45) zur Erzeugung des breitbandigen Weißlichtbündels und einen in einer Verstärkungssättigung betreibbaren optischen Halbleiterverstärker (41) aufweist, wobei das optische Filter (42), der optische Faserverstärker (45) und der optische Halbleiterverstärker (41) in dieser Reihenfolge in der fortschreitenden Richtung des durch den optischen Ring zirkulierenden Lichtbündels angeordnet sind. Lichtquelle nach Anspruch 16, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Verstärker einen zweistufigen optischen Faserverstärker (45) zur Erzeugung des breitbandigen Weißlichtbündels und einen in einer Verstärkungssättigung betreibbaren optischen Halbleiterverstärker (41) aufweist, wobei eine erste Stufe des optischen Faserverstärkers, das optische Filter (42), die zweite Stufe des optischen Faserverstärkers (45) und der optische Halbleiterverstärker (41) in dieser Reihenfolge in der fortschreitenden Richtung des durch den optischen Ring zirkulierenden Lichtbündels angeordnet sind. Lichtquelle nach einem der Ansprüche 16 bis 19, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß das optische Filter (42) ein kontinuierlich wellenlängenabstimmbares optisches Filter (51) ist, wobei dessen zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge in Synchronizität zu einem extern zugeführten Taktsignal durchstimmbar ist. Lichtquelle nach einem der Ansprüche 16 bis 19, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß das optische Filter (42) ein akustooptisches wellenlängenabstimmbares optisches Filter (61) ist, wobei dessen zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge in Abhängigkeit von der Frequenz eines angelegten elektrischen Signals abstimmbar ist, wobei die zentrale Transmissionswellenlänge durchstimmbar ist, indem das elektrische Signal in Synchronizität zu einem extern zugeführten Taktsignal durchgestimmt wird. Lichtquelle nach Anspruch 7, wobei das optische Filter (42) ein Wellenleiter-Gitter-Array-Filter (71) ist,

wobei der optische Verstärker eine Vielzahl von optischen Halbleiterverstärkern (41-1 bis 41-4) aufweist, um Lichtbündel korrespondierender Wellenlängen einzuspeisen, die mittels Aufteilen durch das Wellenleiter-Gitter-Array-Filter (71) erzielt werden,

wobei der optische Leistungsteiler eine Vielzahl von optischen Aufteilungsabschnitten (43-1 bis 43-4) aufweist,

wobei der optische Abschwächer eine Vielzahl von optischen Abschwächern (44-1 bis 44-4) aufweist, und

wobei die Lichtquelle einen optischen Kombinierer aufweist, um die von der Vielzahl optischer Abschwächer (44-1 bis 44-4) ausgegebenen Lichtbündel zu kombinieren.
Lichtquelle nach Anspruch 22, dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß der optische Kombinierer das Wellenleiter-Gitter-Array-Filter (71) aufweist, um ein Weißlichtbündel aufzuteilen.
Anspruch[en]
A light generation method for outputting a single-mode light by filtering a white-light having wavelength components over a wide-band in a wavelength domain, the method comprising: a step of using an optical amplifier (5; 41; 41, 45) for generating said white-light; a step of using an optical filter (3; 26; 42) for filtering the light amplified by said optical amplifier (5; 41; 41, 45), a step of using an optical power divider (24; 43) to divide a light transmitted through said optical filter (3; 26; 42) into two lights; a step of providing an optical path through which one of the lights obtained from said optical power divider (24; 43) is fed back to said optical amplifier (5; 41; 41, 45); and a step of obtaining said single-mode light as the other of the lights obtained from said optical power divider (24; 43), the method being characterized

by a step of arranging said optical path to form an optical ring, and

by a step of using an optical attenuator (23; 44) for adjusting a round-trip gain in said optical ring to prevent laser oscillation.
A light generation method as claimed in Claim 1, characterized in that said optical amplifier comprises a semiconductor optical amplifier (5; 41). A light generation method as claimed in Claim 1 or 2, characterized in that said optical amplifier (5) operates in a gain saturation. A light generation method as claimed in one of Claims 1 to 3, characterized in that the method further comprises a step of using a polarization controller (4) for adjusting the polarization of the light fed back to said optical amplifier (5). A light generation method as claimed in one of Claims 1 to 4, characterized in that the method further comprises a step of using an optical filter control means (12, 13; 27 to 29) for controlling the center transmission wavelength of said optical filter (3; 26). A light generation method as claimed in Claim 5, characterized in that said optical filter control means (12, 13; 27 to 29) comprises a data-storage device (13; 29) for storing data of center transmission wavelength versus control parameters of said optical filter (3; 26) for determining the center transmission wavelength of said optical filter (3; 26), wherein when a center transmission wavelength is provided as an instructive value, said optical filter control means (12, 13; 27 to 29) reads said data from said data-storage device (13; 29) and controls said optical filter (3; 26) based on the read data so that the center transmission wavelength of said optical filter (3; 26) equals the center transmission wavelength provided as the instructive value. A light source for outputting a single-mode light by filtering a white-light having wavelength components over a wide-band in a wavelength domain, comprising: an optical amplifier (5; 41; 41, 45) for generating said white-light; an optical filter (3; 26; 42) for filtering the light amplified by said optical amplifier (5; 41; 41, 45); an optical power divider (24; 43) to divide a light transmitted through said optical filter (3; 26; 42) into two lights; and an optical path through which one of the lights obtained from said optical power divider (24; 43) is fed back to said optical amplifier (5; 41; 41, 45), wherein said single-mode light is obtained as the other of the lights obtained from said optical power divider (24; 43), characterized

in that said optical path forms an optical ring, and

in that said optical ring comprises an optical attenuator (23; 44) for adjusting a round-trip gain in said optical ring to prevent laser oscillation.
A light source as claimed in Claim 7, characterized in that said optical path comprises an optical isolator (2). A light source as claimed in Claim 7 or 8, characterized in that said optical amplifier comprises a semiconductor optical amplifier (5; 41). A light source as claimed in one of Claims 7 to 9, characterized in that said optical amplifier (5) is operable in a gain saturation. A light source as claimed in Claim 9, characterized in that the light source further comprises a polarization controller (4) for adjusting the polarization of the light fed back to said semiconductor optical amplifier (5). A light source as claimed in one of Claims 7 to 11, characterized in that the light source further comprises another amplifier (22) located on the transmission side of said optical filter (3; 26). A light source as claimed in one of Claims 7 to 12, characterized in that said optical filter (3) comprises a planar disc-shaped filter (31) and filters a parallel light passing through the disc-shaped filter (31) perpendicularly or almost perpendicularly to its surface in such a manner that the center transmission wavelength is varied using as a variable a viewing-angle around a rotation axis of the disc-shaped filter (31),

wherein the filtering effect of said disc-shaped filter (31) is provided by a dielectric multilayer film band transmission optical filter (37) having a cavity layer thickness proportional or generally proportional to the viewing-angle,

wherein the light source includes a viewing-angle detection means (32, 32a) for determining said viewing-angle by detecting a mark (38) which is written on the disc-shaped filter (31),

wherein data of center transmission wavelength versus control parameters of said optical filter (3) is stored in a data-storage device (13) using as variable said viewing-angle and a temperature measured near said disc-shaped filter (31),

wherein when a center transmission wavelength is provided as an instructive value, said data is read from said data-storage device (13) and the viewing-angle of said disc-shaped filter (31) is controlled such that the center transmission wavelength of said disc-shaped filter (31) equals the instructive value, and

wherein the temperature measured near said disc-shaped filter (31) is detected to constantly fine-tune the viewing-angle of said disc-shaped filter (31) so that the center transmission wavelength of said disc-shaped filter (31) equals the instructive value.
A light source as claimed in Claim 13, characterized in that a means for controlling the viewing-angle of said disc-shaped filter (31) comprises an ultrasonic motor (30). A light source as claimed in one of Claims 7 to 12, characterized in that said optical filter (26) is an acoustooptical filter for controlling the center transmission wavelength depending on the frequency of an electrical oscillator (27),

wherein data of center transmission wavelength versus control parameters of said optical filter (26) is stored in a data-storage device (29) using the frequency as a variable, and

wherein when a center transmission wavelength is provided as an instructive value, said data is read from said data-storage device (29) and the frequency of said electrical oscillator (27) for controlling said acoustooptical filter is controlled so that the center transmission wavelength of said acoustooptical filter equals the instructive value.
A light source as claimed in one of Claims 7 to 15, characterized in that said optical amplifier (41; 41, 45) is operable in a gain saturation, and

in that the attenuation of said optical attenuator (44) is adjustable in such a manner that a mode circulating through said optical ring has a value smaller than or equal to a laser oscillation threshold.
A light source as claimed in Claim 16, characterized in that said optical amplifier comprises an optical fiber amplifier (45) for generating the white-light of a wide-band and a semiconductor optical amplifier (41) operable in a gain saturation, wherein said optical fiber amplifier (45), said optical filter (42) and said semiconductor optical amplifier (41) are arranged in this order in the advancing direction of the light circulating through said optical ring. A light source as claimed in Claim 16, characterized in that said optical amplifier comprises an optical fiber amplifier (45) for generating the wide-band white-light and a semiconductor optical amplifier (41) operable in a gain saturation, wherein said optical filter (42), said optical fiber amplifier (45), and said semiconductor optical amplifier (41) are arranged in this order in the advancing direction of the light circulating through said optical ring. A light source as claimed in Claim 16, characterized in that said optical amplifier comprises a two-stage optical fiber amplifier (45) for generating the wide-band white-light and a semiconductor optical amplifier (41) operable in a gain saturation, wherein a first stage of said optical fiber amplifier, said optical filter (42), the second stage of said optical fiber amplifier (45), and said semiconductor optical amplifier (41) are arranged in this order in the advancing direction of the light circulating through said optical ring. A light source as claimed in one of Claims 16 to 19, characterized in that said optical filter (42) is a continuous wavelength-tunable optical filter (51) having its center transmission wavelength sweepable in synchronism with an externally supplied clock signal. A light source as claimed in one of Claims 16 to 19, characterized in that said optical filter (42) is an acoustooptical wavelength-tunable optical filter (61) having its center transmission wavelength tunable depending on the frequency of an applied electric signal, wherein the center transmission wavelength is sweepable by sweeping said electric signal in synchronism with an externally supplied clock signal. A light source as claimed in Claim 7, wherein said optical filter (42) is an array waveguide grating filter (71),

wherein said optical amplifier comprises a plurality of semiconductor optical amplifiers (41-1 to 41-4) for inputting lights of corresponding wavelengths obtained by means of division by said array waveguide grating filter . (71),

wherein said optical power divider comprises a plurality of optical division sections (43-1 to 43-4),

wherein said optical attenuator comprises a plurality of optical attenuators (44-1 to 44-4), and

wherein the light source comprises an optical combiner for combining the lights output from said plurality of optical attenuators (44-1 to 44-4).
A light source as claimed in Claim 22, characterized in that said optical combiner comprises said array waveguide grating filter (71) for dividing a white-light.
Anspruch[fr]
Procédé de génération de lumière pour produire une lumière monomode en filtrant une lumière blanche ayant des composantes de longueur d'onde sur une large bande dans un domaine de longueurs d'onde, le procédé comprenant : - une étape consistant à utiliser un amplificateur optique (5 ; 41 ; 41, 45) pour générer ladite lumière blanche ; - une étape consistant à utiliser un filtre optique (3 ; 26 ; 42) pour filtrer la lumière amplifiée par ledit amplificateur optique (5 ; 41 ; 41, 45) ; - une étape consistant à utiliser un diviseur de puissance optique (24 ; 43) pour diviser une lumière transmise à travers ledit filtre optique (3 ; 26 ; 42) en deux lumières ; - une étape consistant à fournir un chemin optique à travers lequel une des lumières obtenues à partir dudit diviseur de puissance optique (24 ; 43) est renvoyée vers ledit amplificateur optique (5 ; 41 ; 41, 45) ; et - une étape consistant à obtenir ladite lumière monomode en tant que l'autre des lumières obtenues à partir dudit diviseur de puissance optique (24 ; 43), le procédé étant caractérisé - par l'étape consistant à agencer ledit chemin optique pour former un anneau optique, et - par l'étape consistant à utiliser un atténuateur optique (23 ; 44) pour ajuster un gain aller-retour dans ledit anneau optique pour empêcher l'oscillation laser. Procédé de génération de lumière selon la revendication 1, caractérisé en ce que ledit amplificateur optique comprend un amplificateur optique à semi-conducteur (5 ; 41). Procédé de génération de lumière selon la revendication 1 ou 2, caractérisé en ce que ledit amplificateur optique (5) fonctionne dans une saturation de gain. Procédé de génération de lumière selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, caractérisé en ce que le procédé comprend en outre une étape consistant à utiliser un contrôleur de polarisation (4) pour ajuster la polarisation de la lumière renvoyée vers ledit amplificateur optique (5). Procédé de génération de lumière selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, caractérisé en ce que le procédé comprend en outre une étape consistant à utiliser des moyens de commande de filtre optique (12 ; 13 ; 27 à 29) pour contrôler la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale dudit filtre optique (3 ; 26). Procédé de génération de lumière selon la revendication 5, caractérisé en ce que lesdits moyens de commande de filtre optique (12, 13 ; 27 à 29) comprennent un dispositif de stockage de données (13 ; 29) pour stocker des données de longueur d'onde de transmission centrale par rapport aux paramètres de commande dudit filtre optique (3 ; 26) pour déterminer la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale dudit filtre optique (3 ; 26), dans lequel lorsqu'une longueur d'onde de transmission centrale est fournie en tant que valeur instructive, lesdits moyens de commande de filtre optique (12, 13 ; 27 à 29) lisent lesdites données dudit dispositif de stockage de données (13 ; 29) et contrôlent ledit filtre optique (3 ; 26) en se basant sur les données de lecture de sorte que la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale dudit filtre optique (3 ; 26) soit égale à la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale fournie en tant que valeur instructive. Source de lumière destinée à produire une lumière monomode en filtrant une lumière blanche ayant des composantes de longueur d'onde sur une large bande dans un domaine de longueur d'onde, comprenant : - un amplificateur optique (5 ; 41 ; 41, 45) pour générer ladite lumière blanche ; - un filtre optique (3 ; 26 ; 42) pour filtrer la lumière amplifiée par ledit amplificateur optique (5 ; 41 ; 41, 45) ; - un diviseur de puissance optique (24 ; 43) pour diviser une lumière transmise à travers ledit filtre optique (3 ; 26 ; 42) en deux lumières ; et - un chemin optique à travers lequel une des lumières obtenues à partir dudit diviseur de puissance optique (24 ; 43) est renvoyée vers ledit amplificateur optique (5;41 ;41, 45), dans laquelle ladite lumière monomode est obtenue en tant que l'autre des lumières obtenue à partir dudit diviseur de puissance optique (24 ; 43),

caractérisée - en ce que ledit chemin optique forme un anneau optique, et - en ce que ledit anneau optique comprend un atténuateur optique (23 ; 44) pour ajuster un gain aller-retour dans ledit anneau optique pour empêcher l'oscillation laser.
Source de lumière selon la revendication 7, caractérisée en ce que ledit chemin optique comprend un isolateur optique (2). Source de lumière selon la revendication 7 ou 8, caractérisée en ce que ledit amplificateur optique comprend un amplificateur optique à semi-conducteur (5 ; 41). Source de lumière selon l'une des revendications 7 à 9, caractérisée en ce que ledit amplificateur optique (5) est utilisable dans une saturation de gain. Source de lumière selon la revendication 9, caractérisée en ce que la source de lumière comprend en outre un contrôleur de polarisation (4) pour ajuster la polarisation de la lumière renvoyée audit amplificateur optique à semi-conducteur (5). Source de lumière selon l'une des revendications 7 à 11, caractérisé en ce que la source de lumière comprend en outre un autre amplificateur (22) situé sur le côté de transmission dudit filtre optique (3 ; 26). Source de lumière selon l'une des revendications 7 à 12, caractérisée en ce que ledit filtre optique (3) comprend un filtre en forme de disque plan (31) et filtre une lumière parallèle passant à travers le filtre en forme de disque (31) de façon perpendiculaire ou quasi perpendiculaire à sa surface de telle manière que la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale soit modifiée en utilisant en tant que variable un angle de visée autour d'un axe de rotation du filtre en forme de disque (31),

dans laquelle l'effet de filtrage dudit filtre en forme de disque (31) est fourni par un filtre optique de transmission en bande à film multicouches diélectrique (37) ayant une épaisseur de couche de cavité proportionnelle ou généralement proportionnelle à l'angle de visée,

dans laquelle la source de lumière comprend des moyens de détection d'angle de visée (32, 32a) pour déterminer ledit angle de visée en détectant un repère (38) qui est inscrit sur le filtre en forme de disque (31),

dans laquelle les données de longueur d'onde de transmission centrale par rapport aux paramètres de commande dudit filtre optique (3) sont stockées dans un dispositif de stockage de données (13) en utilisant en tant que variable ledit angle de visée et une température mesurée à proximité dudit filtre en forme de disque (31),

dans laquelle lorsqu'une longueur d'onde de transmission centrale est fournie en tant que valeur instructive, lesdites données sont lues à partir dudit dispositif de stockage de données (13) et l'angle de visée dudit filtre en forme de disque (31) est contrôlé de telle sorte que la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale dudit filtre en forme de disque (31) soit égale à la valeur instructive, et

dans laquelle la température mesurée à proximité dudit filtre en forme de disque (31) est détectée pour régler constamment l'angle de visée dudit filtre en forme de disque (31) de sorte que la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale dudit filtre en forme de disque (31) soit égale à la valeur instructive.
Source de lumière selon la revendication 13, caractérisée en ce que des moyens de commande de l'angle de visée dudit filtre en forme de disque (31) comprennent un moteur ultrasonore (30). Source de lumière selon l'une des revendications 7 à 12, caractérisée en ce que ledit filtre optique (26) est un filtre acousto-optique pour contrôler la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale en fonction de la fréquence d'un oscillateur électrique (27),

dans laquelle les données de longueur d'onde de transmission centrale par rapport aux paramètres de commande dudit filtre optique (26) sont stockées dans un dispositif de stockage de données (29) en utilisant la fréquence en tant que variable, et

dans laquelle, lorsqu'une longueur d'onde de transmission centrale est fournie en tant que valeur instructive, lesdites données sont lues à partir dudit dispositif de stockage de données (29) et la fréquence dudit oscillateur électrique (27) pour contrôler ledit filtre acousto-optique est contrôlée de sorte que la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale dudit filtre acousto-optique soit égale à la valeur instructive.
Source de lumière selon l'une des revendications 7 à 15, caractérisée en ce que ledit amplificateur optique (41 ; 41, 45) est utilisable dans une saturation de gain, et en ce que l'atténuation dudit atténuateur optique (44) est ajustable de telle manière qu'un mode circulant à travers ledit anneau optique ait une valeur inférieure ou égale à un seuil d'oscillation laser. Source de lumière selon la revendication 16, caractérisée en ce que ledit amplificateur optique comprend un amplificateur à fibre optique (45) pour générer la lumière blanche d'une large bande et un amplificateur optique à semi-conducteur (41) utilisable dans une saturation de gain, dans laquelle ledit amplificateur à fibre optique (45), ledit filtre optique (42) et ledit amplificateur optique à semi-conducteur (41) sont agencés dans cet ordre dans la direction de progression de la lumière circulant à travers ledit anneau optique. Source de lumière selon la revendication 16, caractérisée en ce que ledit amplificateur optique comprend un amplificateur à fibre optique (45) pour générer la lumière blanche de large bande et un amplificateur optique à semi-conducteur (41) utilisable dans une saturation de gain, dans laquelle ledit filtre optique (42), ledit amplificateur à fibre optique (45) et ledit amplificateur optique à semi-conducteur (41) sont agencés dans cet ordre dans la direction de progression de la lumière circulant à travers ledit anneau optique. Source de lumière selon la revendication 16, caractérisée en ce que ledit amplificateur optique comprend un amplificateur à fibre optique à deux étages (45) pour générer la lumière blanche de large bande et un amplificateur optique à semi-conducteur (41) utilisable dans une saturation de gain, dans laquelle un premier étage dudit amplificateur à fibre optique, ledit filtre optique (42), le second étage dudit amplificateur à fibre optique (45), et ledit amplificateur optique à semi-conducteur (41) sont agencés dans cet ordre dans la direction de progression de la lumière circulant à travers ledit anneau optique. Source de lumière selon l'une des revendications 16 à 19, caractérisée en ce que ledit filtre optique (42) est un filtre optique accordable en longueur d'onde continu (51) ayant sa longueur d'onde de transmission centrale balayable en synchronisation avec un signal d'horloge fourni de façon externe. Source de lumière selon l'une des revendications 16 à 19, caractérisée en ce que ledit filtre optique (42) est un filtre optique accordable en longueur d'onde acousto-optique (61) ayant sa longueur d'onde de transmission centrale accordable en fonction de la fréquence d'un signal électrique appliqué, dans laquelle la longueur d'onde de transmission centrale est balayable en balayant ledit signal électrique en synchronisation avec un signal d'horloge fourni de façon externe. Source de lumière selon la revendication 7,

dans laquelle ledit filtre optique (42) est un filtre à réseau sélectif planaire (71),

dans laquelle ledit amplificateur optique comprend une pluralité d'amplificateurs optiques à semi-conducteur (41-1 à 41-4) pour entrer des lumières de longueurs d'onde correspondantes obtenues au moyen de la division par ledit filtre à réseau sélectif planaire 71,

dans laquelle ledit diviseur de puissance optique comprend une pluralité de sections de division optique (43-1 à 43-4),

dans laquelle ledit atténuateur optique comprend une pluralité d'atténuateurs optiques (44-1 à 44-4), et

dans laquelle la source de lumière comprend un combineur optique pour combiner les lumières produites par ladite pluralité d'atténuateurs optiques (44-1 à 44-4).
Source de lumière selon la revendication 22, caractérisée en ce que ledit combineur optique comprend ledit filtre à réseau sélectif planaire (71) pour diviser une lumière blanche.






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