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Optical preamplifier (OPA) in the mid-infrared can boost weak signals in systems such as lidars or optical wireless links to improve the receiver sensitivity. Quantum-cascade-based traveling-wave OPA with off-normal Bragg-grating (BG) coupled surface-emitting configuration have been developed with a net small-signal gain up to 13 dB over a spectral range ∼70 nm around 4.7 μm, limited by the wafer gain bandwidth, and the linear dynamic range was >20 dB. Amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) was measured and the spontaneous emission factor was determined Nsp∼1, indicating near quantum-limit noise behavior. Surface-emitting BG devices yielded diffraction-limited output beam, and provided simultaneous wavelength dispersion and ASE filtering. The OPA was coupled with a detector to form a receiver that is polarization-selective, has a net gain 8-13 dB with a corresponding optical filter bandwidth 25-50 GHz. These results suggest that BG-coupled OPA receivers can be useful for multispectral/wavelength-division-multiplexing systems in free space applications.
Date of Publication: Jan. 2005