The short-term jitter and longer-term wander of the frequency sweep profile of a Vernier-Tuned Distributed Bragg Reflector (VT-DBR) laser at 1550 nm used in OCT applications is characterized in this work. The VT-DBR has demonstrated success in source-swept OCT (SSOCT), performing both intensity [1] and phase-sensitive [2] OCT. The purpose of this paper is to investigate one of the unique aspects of the VT-DBR laser that makes it successful in OCT: the stability of the linear optical frequency sweep of the source. Jitter measurements of the optical frequency sweep are recorded using a 3-cavity 100 GHz free spectral range (FSR) solid etalon. A gas absorption reference cell is used for wander characterization. We report that the VT-DBR jitters by no more than 82 MHz RMS in optical frequency while sweeping at an 8 kHz repetition rate. Longer-term wander provides insight into the accuracy of the VT-DBR self-calibration routine which produces an intrinsically linear optical frequency sweep. Over an 8-hour data collection period, the system maintains a linear sweep with an optical frequency step of 105 MHz per 2.5 ns with +/- 3 kHz per 2.5 ns (+/- 0.03%) peak-to-peak deviation. We find that the absolute frequency drifts by 325 MHz (2.6pm) over the same 8-hour period with ambient temperature fluctuations of no more than 5 °C. Results show that using calibration with a gas reference cell, picometer absolute wavelength accuracy of the laser can be achieved at any time for a single sweep. Stability and accuracy limits are thought to be due to electronic drive circuitry in the current design.

© 2015 SPIE

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