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- electrooptic modulator; modulation linearity; optical feedback
The use of optical feedback for improving response linearity of electrooptic light modulators has been investigated. The modulator is configured as a straight channel waveguide flanked by electrodes in a lithium niobate (LiNbO3) substrate. Light is coupled into the waveguide in both TE and TM polarizations, and a voltage applied across electrodes causes a relative phase shift between two polarization components. An output analyzer converts the phase modulation to intensity modulation. Optical feedback of light in both polarization modes results from reflection of light at the polished edges of the substrate. Channel waveguides supporting a single guided mode for TE and TM polarizations were fabricated in x-cut LiNbO3 substrates using titanium-indiffusion technique. The waveguides and modulators were characterized at a wavelength of 1.55 ??m using a distributed feedback laser. The modulators were driven with a sinusoidal voltage waveform. To minimize harmonics of the modulating frequency in the intensity output, the magnitude of the optical feedback and the substrate temperature were adjusted. The feedback level was altered by applying refractive index-matching liquid to one or both ends of the waveguide at the edges of the crystal. It was found that a high degree of response linearity in the presence of feedback was achievable at certain substrate temperatures. The spurious-free dynamic range (SFDR) relative to the noise floor was measured at different feedback levels and substrate temperatures in an effort to maximize the modulator response linearity. An SFDR of 68.04 dB, limited by third-order nonlinearity, was achieved by applying index-matching fluid to the input end of the substrate. This compares with an SFDR of 64.84 dB limited by second-order nonlinearity when index-matching fluid was applied at both ends of the substrate. By changing the temperature of the same substrate to adjust the phase shifts experienced by TE and TM polarizations, the SFDR with index-matching fluid at the input end increased to 71.83 dB, limited by third-order nonlinearity. In tests at constant modulation depth, an improvement of as much as 9.6 dB in SFDR vs. the theoretical value for an interferometric modulator without feedback was achieved.