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High-speed continuously tunable liquid crystal filter for WDM networks

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2 Author(s)
Sneh, A. ; Lucent Technol., AT&T Bell Labs., Holmdel, NJ, USA ; Johnson, Kristina M.

We describe a high-speed wavelength tunable liquid crystal filter which can be utilized as the tuning element at the receiving end of wavelength division multiaccess (WDMA) optical networks. The filter uses chiral smectic A electroclinic liquid crystals as the active cavity material in a Fabry-Perot etalon in order to obtain a microsecond switching speed. Using the commercially available BDH764E liquid crystal material, we demonstrate a tunable optical filter both in a bulk Fabry-Perot and a fiber Fabry-Perot (FFP) configuration. A bandwidth of about 0.7 mm and effective finesse of 70 were obtained in the FFP configuration. A FFP tuning range of 13 nm with a switching time of less than 10 μs were measured at the operating wavelength of 1.55 μm. A theoretical analysis of the expected filter performance in the FFP configuration is given. Diffraction in the Fabry-Perot cavity is identified as the dominant loss factor, resulting in reduced throughput and finesse broadening. It is calculated theoretically that an effective finesse of 130 and a throughput loss of 2.2 dB are achievable for a mirror finesse of 200 and a liquid crystal cavity thickness of 5 μm. A short waveguide piece is assumed to be included in the cavity. Other expected loss sources for the filter in the FFP configuration have been calculated, showing negligible effect on the filter performance

Published in:

Lightwave Technology, Journal of  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 6 )