Erbium-Doped Fiber Amplifiers for New Generations of Optical Communication Systems

From these pioneering times to now—where this basic principle of optical amplification made it possible to demonstrate optical communications at multi-gigabit rates through distances over 2,000km (ref.2) and potentially 10,000km (ref. 3)—a considerable evolution in technology has taken place. Following the invention and development of the first lasers and GaAs laser diodes (1958-1962), the idea of doping glass fibers with rare-earth ions for achieving traveling-wave amplifying devices was soon investigated. In 1963, C.J. Koester and E. Snitzer (himself inventor of glass lasers) obtained 47 dB gain at 1.06 μm wavelength, using a 1m-long neodymium-doped fiber coiled around a flash lamp.4 After the demonstration of low-loss single mode fibers by Corning in 1970, nonlinear effects such as stimulated Raman (SRS) and Brillouin (SBS) scattering were also shown to offer the potential for light amplification (R.H. Stolen and E.P. Ippen, 1972).

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