Marconi's Optical Components division is claiming a breakthrough in wideband tunable lasers with a device, dubbed the Digital Supermode, that could drive down the costs of optical networking gear.
The device, a Distributed Bragg Reflector Indium Phosphide (InP) based laser, is said to offer improved tuning characteristics that enables real-time wavelength reconfiguration and better reliability than conventional four-section DBR lasers.
The laser incorporates a novel type of reflector in the front end, which, Marconi says, reduces losses and simplifies the way the laser is controlled. The operation of the front end section reduces the tuning 'map' of the device, so that the device effectively has only two dimensions: a tuning current and a phase current.
Another advantage then is that the output power and tuning uniformity are greatly improved, and there is no longer a need to incorporate extra costly and power hungry optical amplifier sections. Marconi says only a short grating at the front needs to be excited, so there is little induced optical loss when the device is tuned.
The company is not revealing exactly what replaces the front group of gratings, but it says the approach gives the right grating for whatever wavelength is required just by turning on an electric current.
Marconi plans to integrate the DS-DBR laser into a range of transmitter products. It will also integrate the laser with its Gallium Arsenide modulators to offer 10Gbit/s and 40Gbit/s tunable transmitter subsystems, that will be one third the size of existing discrete optical subassemblies, and eliminate the need for costly fiber splicing.
Carla Feldman, executive vice president for sales at Marconi Optical Components, said "this is a world first in tunable transmitter subsystems. The new laser, when combined with our GaAs modulation architecture, will provide telecoms manufacturers with unrivalled performance, real-time configurability and power uniformity."
Marconi expects to start shipping products incorporating the DS-DBR laser in volume by the middle of next year.