A prototype external-cavity diode laser (ECDL) has been developed for communication systems utilizing dense wavelength-division multiplexing (DWDM). This ECDL is an updated version of the ECDL reported in “Wavelength-Agile External-Cavity Diode Laser” (LEW-17090), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 11 (November 2001), page 14a. To recapitulate: The wavelength-agile ECDL combines the stability of an external-cavity laser with the wavelength agility of a diode laser. Wavelength is modulated by modulating the injection current of the diode-laser gain element. The external cavity is a Littman-Metcalf resonator, in which the zeroth-order output from a diffraction grating is used as the laser output and the first-order-diffracted light is retroreflected by a cavity feedback mirror, which establishes one end of the resonator. The other end of the resonator is the output surface of a Fabry-Perot resonator that constitutes the diode-laser gain element. Wavelength is selected by choosing the angle of the diffracted return beam, as determined by position of the feedback mirror. The present wavelength-agile ECDL is distinguished by design details that enable coverage of all 60 channels, separated by 100-GHz frequency intervals, that are specified in DWDM standards.

This work was done by Jeffrey S. Pilgrim and David S. Bomse of Southwest Sciences, Inc., for Johnson Space Center.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Southwest Sciences, Inc.
1570 Pacheco Street: Suite E-11
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Refer to MSC-23408.

Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2006 issue of Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine.

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