Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers
Several new products based on Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (SOAs) made a splash at the recent OFC conference (see Vendors Unveil Amplifier Advances). The technology has been under significant development over the last 10 years, and it seems as if the day of the SOA may at last be arriving.
In this report by Stephen Montgomery, the president of ElectroniCast Corp., we take a look at some of the reasons why SOAs are attracting so much attention – specifically focusing on three key applications of the technology.
The first and most obvious application of SOAs is Optical Amplification. Although the prevalence of Erbium Doped-Fiber Amplifiers (EDFAs) over recent years has restricted growth in this area, there are now niche applications where SOAs are proving a useful alternative. For example, recent products have been aimed at power and pre-amplification (see Kamelian Launches First Products and Genoa Releases Two Amps) and metro applications (see Corning Intros Amplifiers).
SOAs are by no means a one-trick pony – they can also be used as all-optical switching elements and wavelength converters (see Interest Grows in Wavelength Conversion). An inherent advantage with these applications is that, in general, the optical losses of the switching/conversion process are neatly compensated for by the inherent amplification capability of SOAs.
The predicted market for these three applications of SOAs is certainly significant – expected to rise to a total world consumption of over $250 million in 2005, according to an ElectroniCast forecast (see Report Sees SOA Market Growth). Although wavelength converters take the smallest share of this total, they are expected to be the largest growth area, with a 75 percent annual increase in consumption anticipated for the first five years of this decade. Table 1 below has the full details.
Table 1: SOA Global Consumption Value Forecast
|SOA Function||2000||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2010||Growth 2000-2005||Growth 2005-2010|
|Optical Switch Element||20.0||28.4||40.1||61.2||81.0||105.2||401.2||39%||31%|
|Figures in $Millions|
Read on to discover how all of this SOA technology actually works and what challenges still lie ahead. Here's a hyperlinked summary of the report: Technical Basics
An overview of what SOAs are, what they do, and how they do it Research History
A brief rundown of the background of research and development that has brought SOAs to their current situation Optical Amplification
The merits and drawbacks of SOAs against other optical amplifier technologies Optical Switching
The design of SOA-based optical switches Wavelength Conversion
The use of nonlinear effects to convert wavelengths — Introduction by Craig Williamson, Associate Editor, Light Reading
http://www.lightreading.com Next: Technical Basics