3 February 2023
Pilot Photonics announces availability of nanosecond-switching narrow-linewidth widely tunable laser
Pilot Photonics of Dublin, Ireland — which produces light sources and III-V photonic integrated circuits (PICs) for communications, automotive and space applications — has announced the availability of a new widely tunable laser module. It is claimed to be the only commercially available tunable laser that offers the elusive combination of nanosecond switching and narrow linewidth, solving a long-running challenge in the industry.
Widely tunable semiconductor lasers can typically offer narrow linewidth, or fast tuning, but not both. In optical fiber sensing systems, electronically tunable lasers have traditionally been used for their fast tunability over a wide tuning range, which is achieved using a current-injection tuning mechanism. However, these lasers exhibit linewidths that are unsuitable for demanding phase-sensitive applications such as coherent optical communication and frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) light detection & ranging (LiDAR). Changing to a thermal tuning mechanism reduces the linewidth, but at the expense of switching speed, which renders the laser unsuitable for some of these applications.
Pilot Photonics’ laser is based on a monolithic indium phosphide (InP) chip fabricated on an active–passive platform. Electro-optic tuning with reverse-voltage bias of tuning sections allows milliAmp-order dark currents and facilitates nanosecond switching speeds with low power dissipation. It offers more than 30nm of wavelength tuning range in either the C-band or the O-band, and linewidth of 150kHz. Currently available in a 14-pin butterfly package or integrated into an OEM or laboratory instrument form-factor module, the company is also developing a nano-iTLA (integrated tunable laser assembly) module for high-volume applications.
“We have been working with our partner SMART Photonics on a couple of innovative tunable laser designs made possible with their PIC platform,” says Pilot Photonics’ founder & chief technology officer Dr Frank Smyth. “These devices target specific challenges that our customers are facing.”
At SPIE Photonics West 2023 in San Francisco, CA, USA (31 January–2 February), Pilot Photonics demonstrated the tunable laser and presented a paper ‘Widely tunable C-band laser and module with nanosecond tuning and narrow linewidth” detailing its characterization.