Ultra-wide frequency response measurement of an optical system with a DC photo-detector

Precise knowledge of an optical device's frequency response is crucial for it to be useful in most applications. Traditional methods for determining the frequency response of an optical system (e.g. optical cavity or waveguide modulator) usually rely on calibrated broadband photo-detectors or complicated RF mixdown operations. As the bandwidths of these devices continue to increase, there is a growing need for a characterization method that does not have bandwidth limitations, or require a previously calibrated device. We demonstrate a new calibration technique on an optical system (consisting of an optical cavity and a high-speed waveguide modulator) that is free from limitations imposed by detector bandwidth, and does not require a calibrated photo-detector or modulator. We use a low-frequency (DC) photo-detector to monitor the cavity's optical response as a function of modulation frequency, which is also used to determine the modulator's frequency response. Knowledge of the frequency-dependent modulation depth allows us to more precisely determine the cavity's characteristics (free spectral range and linewidth). The precision and repeatability of our technique is demonstrated by measuring the different resonant frequencies of orthogonal polarization cavity modes caused by the presence of a non-linear crystal. Once the modulator has been characterized using this simple method, the frequency response of any passive optical element can be determined to a fine resolution (e.g. kilohertz) over several gigahertz.

Kuntz KB, Wheatley TA, Song H, Webb JG, Mabrok MA, et al. (2017) Ultra-wide frequency response measurement of an optical system with a DC photo-detector. Optics Express 25: 573. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.25.000573.

This work was supported financially by the Australian Research Council Centres of Excellence scheme number CE110001027, the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and Industry Canada. The authors would like to thank Greg Milford for lending us the RF signal generator, and Darryl Budarick, Rick Whyte, Shane Brandon, and Mitchell Sinclair for much appreciated technical support. We would also like to thank David Moilanen for fruitful discussions.

The Optical Society

Optics Express



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