Mode-locked tunable fiber lasers are of interest for WDM solitonpulse optical communication systems. Requirements for such systems are 20-30-ps transform-limited soliton pulses at repetition rates of 5-10 GHz and with milliwatt peak powers. Actively mode-locked lasers offer the possibility of readily altering the optical pulse repetition rate by changing the rf drive frequency to the mode-locking element. If an intracavity tuning element with variable wavelength selectivity is incorporated, the lasing wavelength can be tuned over the laser gain spectrum and the mode-locked optical pulse duration can also be controlled through control of the pulse spectral width. Current research on actively mode-locked erbium-fiber lasers has concentrated on LiNbO, phase and amplitude modulators for FM and AM mode locking, respectively. The use of these modulators incurs a loss of typically ~8 dB per pass for optimized devices and also necessitates some means of polarization control at the modulator optical input. These factors are compensated by the high pulse repetition rate possible with LiNbO3 mode-locked fiber lasers, which is >14 GHz.1

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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