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We demonstrate the measurement of waveforms and eye diagrams at high bit rates by optical sampling using coherent detection. By simultaneously recording two orthogonal quadratures of the interference between the data stream and a sampling pulse with two balanced detectors, we are able to cancel the phase sensitivity inherent to linear optics. As the device is based on linear optics and square-law low-speed photodetectors, its sensitivity is 1000 times better than nonlinear optical sampling techniques, which makes it attractive for optical signal characterization and monitoring. This new diagnostic tool was used to measure eye diagrams at 10, 40, and 80 Gb/s, and is projected to operate at 160 Gb/s and higher.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2003