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Opt Express. 2009 Oct 12;17(21):18794-807. doi: 10.1364/OE.17.018794.

Wavelength swept amplified spontaneous emission source.

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Lehrstuhl für BioMolekulare Optik, Fakultät für Physik, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Oettingenstr 67, 80538 Munich, Germany.


We present a new, alternative approach to realize a wavelength swept light source with no fundamental limit to sweep speed. Amplified spontaneous emission (ASE) light alternately passes a cascade of optical gain elements and tunable optical bandpass filters. We show that for high sweep speeds, the control signal for the different filters has to be applied with a defined, precise phase delay on the order of nanoseconds, to compensate for the light propagation time between the filters and ensure optimum operation. At a center wavelength of 1300 nm sweep rates of 10 kHz, 100 kHz and 340 kHz over a sweep range of 100 nm full width and an average power of 50 mW are demonstrated. For application in optical coherence tomography (OCT), an axial resolution of 12 microm (air), a sensitivity of 120 dB (50 mW) and a dynamic range of 50 dB are achieved and OCT imaging is demonstrated. Performance parameters like coherence properties and relative intensity noise (RIN) are quantified, discussed and compared to the performance of Fourier Domain Mode Locked (FDML) lasers. Physical models for the observed difference in performance are provided.

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