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WDM Concept and Components . EE 8114 Course Notes. Part 1: WDM Concept . Evolution of the Technology. Why WDM?. Capacity upgrade of existing fiber networks (without adding fibers)

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wdm concept and components

WDM Concept and Components

EE 8114

Course Notes

why wdm
Why WDM?
  • Capacity upgrade of existing fiber networks (without adding fibers)
  • Transparency: Each optical channel can carry any transmission format (different asynchronous bit rates, analog or digital)
  • Scalability– Buy and install equipment for additional demand as needed
  • Wavelength routing and switching: Wavelength is used as another dimension to time and space
wavelength division multiplexing
Wavelength Division Multiplexing

Each wavelength is like a separate channel (fiber)

tdm vs wdm


wavelength division multiplexing7
Wavelength Division Multiplexing
  • Passive/active devices are needed to combine, distribute, isolate and amplify optical power at different wavelengths
wdm cwdm and dwdm
  • WDM technology uses multiple wavelengths to transmit information over a single fiber
  • Coarse WDM (CWDM) has wider channel spacing (20 nm) – low cost
  • Dense WDM (DWDM) has dense channel spacing (0.8 nm) which allows simultaneous transmission of 16+ wavelengths – high capacity
wdm and dwdm
  • First WDM networks used just two wavelengths, 1310 nm and1550 nm
  • Today's DWDM systems utilize 16, 32,64,128 or more wavelengths in the 1550 nm window
  • Each of these wavelength provide an independent channel (Ex: each may transmit 10 Gb/s digital or SCMA analog)
  • The range of standardized channel grids includes 50, 100, 200 and 1000 GHz spacing
  • Wavelength spacing practically depends on:
    • laser linewidth
    • optical filter bandwidth
principles of dwdm
BW of a modulated laser: 10-50 MHz  0.001 nm

Typical Guard band: 0.4 – 1.6 nm

80 nm or 14 THz @1300 nm band

120 nm or 15 THz @ 1550 nm

Discrete wavelengths form individual channels that can be modulated, routed and switched individually

These operations require variety of passive and active devices

Principles of DWDM

Ex. 10.1

nortel optera 640 system
Nortel OPTERA 640 System

64 wavelengths each carrying 10 Gb/s

dwdm limitations
DWDM Limitations

Theoretically large number of channels can be packed in a fiber

For physical realization of DWDM networks we need precise wavelength selective devices

Optical amplifiers are imperative to provide long transmission distances without repeaters

key components for wdm
Key Components for WDM

Passive Optical Components

  • Wavelength Selective Splitters
  • Wavelength Selective Couplers

Active Optical Components

  • Tunable Optical Filter
  • Tunable Source
  • Optical amplifier
  • Add-drop Multiplexer and De-multiplexer
photo detector responsivity
Photo detectors are sensitive over wide spectrum (600 nm).

Hence, narrow optical filters needed to separate channels before the detection in DWDM systems

Photo detector Responsivity

Passive Devices

  • These operate completely in the optical domain (no O/E conversion) and does not need electrical power
  • Split/combine light stream Ex: N X N couplers, power splitters, power taps and star couplers
  • Technologies: - Fiber based or
    • Optical waveguides based
    • Micro (Nano) optics based
  • Fabricated using optical fiber or waveguide (with special material like InP, LiNbO3)
basic star coupler
Basic Star Coupler

May have N inputs and M outputs

  • Can be wavelength selective/nonselective
  • Up to N =M = 64, typically N, M < 10
fused biconical coupler or directional coupler
Fused-Biconical coupler OR Directional coupler
  • P3, P4 extremely low ( -70 dB below Po)
  • Coupling / Splitting Ratio = P2/(P1+P2)
  • If P1=P2It is called 3-dB coupler
fused biconical tapered coupler
Fused Biconical Tapered Coupler
  • Fabricated by twisting together, melting and pulling together two single mode fibers
  • They get fused together over length W; tapered section of length L; total draw length = L+W
  • Significant decrease in V-number in the coupling region; energy in the core leak out and gradually couples into the second fibre

Try Ex. 10.2

coupler characteristics
Coupler characteristics

: Coupling Coefficient

coupler characteristics25
Coupler Characteristics
  • power ratio between both output can be changed by adjusting the draw length of a simple fused fiber coupler
  • It can be made a WDM de-multiplexer:
    • Example, 1300 nm will appear output 2 (p2) and 1550 nm will appear at output 1 (P1)
    • However, suitable only for few wavelengths that are far apart, not good for DWDM
wavelength selective devices
Wavelength Selective Devices

These perform their operation on the incoming optical signal as a function of the wavelength


  • Wavelength add/drop multiplexers
  • Wavelength selective optical combiners/splitters
  • Wavelength selective switches and routers
fused fiber star coupler
Fused-Fiber Star Coupler

Splitting Loss = -10 Log(1/N) dB = 10 Log (N) dB

Excess Loss = 10 Log (Total Pin/Total Pout)

Fused couplers have high excess loss

8x8 bi directional star coupler by cascading 3 stages of 3 db couplers
8x8 bi-directional star coupler by cascading 3 stages of 3-dB Couplers

1, 2

1, 2 5, 6

1, 2

3, 4 7, 8

(12 = 4 X 3)

Try Ex. 10.5

fiber bragg grating30
Fiber Bragg Grating
  • This is invented at Communication Research Center, Ottawa, Canada
  • The FBG has changed the way optical filtering is done
  • The FBG has so many applications
  • The FBG changes a single mode fiber (all pass filter) into a wavelength selective filter
fiber brag grating fbg
Fiber Brag Grating (FBG)
  • Basic FBG is an in-fiber passive optical band reject filter
  • FBG is created by imprinting a periodic perturbation in the fiber core
  • The spacing between two adjacent slits is called the pitch
  • Grating play an important role in:
    • Wavelength filtering
    • Dispersion compensation
    • Optical sensing
    • EDFA Gain flattening
    • Single mode lasers and many more areas
fbg theory
FBG Theory

Exposure to the high intensity UV radiation changes the fiber core n(z) permanently as a periodic function of z

z: Distance measured along fiber core axis

: Pitch of the grating

ncore: Core refractive index

δn: Peak refractive index

simple de multiplexing function
Simple De-multiplexing Function

Peak ReflectivityRmax = tanh2(kL)

dispersion compensation
Dispersion Compensation

Longer wavelengths

take more time

Reverse the operation of

dispersive fiber

Shorter wavelengths

take more time

add drop mux

FBG Reflects in both directions; it is bidirectional

fbg for dfb laser
FBG for DFB Laser
  • Only one wavelength gets positive feedback  single mode Distributed Feed Back laser

FBG Properties

  • Advantages
  • Easy to manufacture, low cost, ease of coupling
  • Minimal insertion losses – approx. 0.1 db or less
  • Passive devices
  • Disadvantages
  • Sensitive to temperature and strain.
  • Any change in temperature or strain in a FBG causes the grating period and/or the effective refractive index to change, which causes the Bragg wavelength to change.

An interferometric device uses 2 interfering paths of different lengths to resolve wavelengths

Typical configuration: two 3-dB directional couplers connected with 2 paths having different lengths


— wideband filters (coarse WDM) that separate signals at1300 nm from those at 1550 nm

— narrowband filters: filter bandwidth depends on the number of cascades (i.e. the number of 3-dB couplers connected)

basic mach zehnder interferometer
Basic Mach-Zehnder Interferometer

Phase shift of the propagating wave increases with L,

Constructive or destructive interference depending on L

mach zehnder interferometer
Mach-Zehnder Interferometer

Phase shift at the output due to the propagation path length difference:

If the power from both inputs (at different wavelengths) to be added at output port 2, then,

Try Ex. 10-6

four channel wavelength multiplexer
Four-Channel Wavelength Multiplexer
  • By appropriately selecting ΔL, wavelength multiplexing/de-multiplexing can be achieved
arrayed wave guide filters
Arrayed Wave Guide Filters

Each waveguide has

slightly different length

phase array based wdm devices
Phase Array Based WDM Devices
  • The arrayed waveguide is a generalization of 2x2 MZI multiplexer
  • The lengths of adjacent waveguides differ by a constant L
  • Different wavelengths get multiplexed (multi-inputs one output) or de-multiplexed (one input multi output)
  • For wavelength routing applications multi-input multi-output routers are available
diffraction gratings
Diffraction Gratings

source impinges on a diffraction grating ,each wavelength

is diffracted at a different angle

Using a lens, these wavelengths can be focused onto

individual fibers.

Less channel isolation between closely spaced wavelengths.

generating multiple wavelength for wdm networks
Generating Multiple Wavelength for WDM Networks
  • Discrete DFB lasers
    • Straight forward stable sources, but expensive
  • Wavelength tunable DFB lasers
  • Multi-wavelength laser array
    • Integrated on the same substrate
    • Multiple quantum wells for better optical and carrier confinement
  • Spectral slicing – LED source and comb filters
discrete single wavelength lasers
Discrete Single-Wavelength Lasers
  • Number of lasers into simple power coupler; each emit one fixed wavelength
  • Expensive (multiple lasers)
  • Sources must be carefully controlled to avoid wavelength drift
frequency tuneable laser
Frequency Tuneable Laser
  • Only one (DFB or DBR) laser that has grating filter in the lasing cavity
  • Wavelength is tuned by either changing the temperature of the grating (0.1 nm/OC)
  • Or by altering the injection current into the passive section (0.006 nm/mA)
  • The tuning range decreases with the optical output power
tunable laser characteristics
Tunable Laser Characteristics

Typically, tuning range 10-15 nm,

Channel spacing = 10 X Channel width

tunable filters
Tunable Filters
  • Tunable filters are made by at least one branch of an interferometric filter has its
    • Propagation length or
    • Refractive index altered by a control mechanism
  • When these parameters change, phase of the propagating light wave changes (as a function of wavelength)
  • Hence, intensity of the added signal changes (as a function of wavelength)
  • As a result, wavelength selectivity is achieved
tuneable filter considerations
Tuneable Filter Considerations
  • Tuning Range (Δν): 25 THz (or 200nm) for the whole 1330 nm to 1500 nm. With EDFA normally Δλ = 35 nm centered at 1550 nm
  • Channel Spacing (δν): the min. separation between channels selected to minimize crosstalk (30 dB or better)
  • Maximum Number of Channels (N = Δν/ δν):
  • Tuning speed: Depends on how fast switching needs to be done (usually milliseconds)
issues in wdm networks
Issues in WDM Networks
  • Nonlinear inelastic scattering processes due to interactions between light and molecular or acoustic vibrations in the fibre
    • Stimulated Raman Scattering (SRS)
    • Stimulated Brillouin Scattering (SBS)
  • Nonlinear variations in the refractive index due to varying light intensity
    • Self Phase Modulation (SPM)
    • Cross Phase Modulation (XPM)
    • Four Wave Mixing (FWM)
  • DWDM plays an important role in high capacity optical networks
  • Theoretically enormous capacity is possible
  • Practically wavelength selective (optical signal processing) components and nonlinear effects limit the performance
  • Passive signal processing elements like FBG, AWG are attractive
  • Optical amplifications is imperative to realize DWDM networks