Construction and measurement of an actively mode-locked sigma laser
Butler, James M.
Pace, Phillip E.
Powers, John P.
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The direct digitization of microwave signals of interest would allow rapid computer processing and analysis. Current analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) are bandwidth limited and electronic warfare systems must down-convert the signal before digitization causing a loss of information. Optical ADCs can directly digitize frequencies greater than 10 GHz using wideband integrated optical interferometers (folding ADCs). A critical component of the optical folding ADC is the pulsed laser used for sampling the wideband signal. The amplitude-modulated pulses become the discrete samples of the analog signal. Limiting factors in an optical ADC are the pulsewidth, the pulse rate, and the jitter noise of the optical pulse train. Mode-locked lasers provide pulse rates and pulsewidths suitable for high bandwidth applications. In this thesis a mode- locked sigma laser was constructed using fiber-optic, electro-optic, and microwave components. The theory of mode-locking, laser construction, output measurements, and sampling applications are discussed in detail. The mode-locked sigma laser demonstrated a pulse repetition frequency of 16 6Hz, pulsewidth of 7.2 picoseconds, amplitude noise less than 1%, temporal jitter of 386 femtoseconds, and the ability to be harmonically mode-locked at twice the modulation frequency using only 200 mW of diode pump power in the optical amplifier. The analysis shows that this laser can be used in an optical ADC to sample a 6.44 GHz signal at 7 bits, 3.22 GHz at 8 bits, or 1.61 GHz at 9 bits of resolution
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NPS Report NumberNPS-EC-98-011
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