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Journal of Modern Optics


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Microwave generation with photonic frequency


octupling using a DPMZM in a Sagnac loop
a

Yongsheng Gao , Aijun Wen , Ningning Li , Xiaohui Wu & Huixing Zhang

State Key Laboratory on Integrated Services Networks, Xidian University, Xian, China
Published online: 20 Apr 2015.

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To cite this article: Yongsheng Gao, Aijun Wen, Ningning Li, Xiaohui Wu & Huixing Zhang (2015): Microwave
generation with photonic frequency octupling using a DPMZM in a Sagnac loop, Journal of Modern Optics, DOI:
10.1080/09500340.2015.1034793
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500340.2015.1034793

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Journal of Modern Optics, 2015


http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09500340.2015.1034793

Microwave generation with photonic frequency octupling using a DPMZM in a Sagnac loop
Yongsheng Gao, Aijun Wen*, Ningning Li, Xiaohui Wu and Huixing Zhang
State Key Laboratory on Integrated Services Networks, Xidian University, Xian, China

Downloaded by [Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee] at 02:49 08 June 2015

(Received 22 December 2014; accepted 23 March 2015)


A photonic microwave signal generation scheme with frequency octupling is proposed and experimentally demonstrated.
The scheme is based on bi-directional use of a dual-parallel MachZehnder modulator (DPMZM) in a Sagnac loop. The
two sub-modulators in the DPMZM are driven by two low-frequency signals with a /2 phase difference, and the dc
biases of the modulator are all set at the maximum transmission points. Due to the velocity mismatch of the modulator,
only the light wave along the clockwise direction is effectively modulated by the drive signals to generate an optical
signal with a carrier and 4th order sidebands, while the modulation of the light wave along the counterclockwise direction is far less effective and can be ignored. By properly adjusting the polarization of the light wave output from the
Sagnac loop, the optical carrier can be signicantly suppressed at a polarizer, and then an optical signal with only 4th
order sidebands is generated. In the experiment, a pure 24-GHz microwave signal without additional phase noise from
the optical system is generated using a 3-GHz local oscillator signal. As no electrical or optical lter is used, the
photonic frequency octupler is of good frequency tunability.
Keywords: carrier suppression; frequency octupling; microwave generation; microwave photonics; phase noise;
Sagnac loop

1. Introduction
Microwave generation in the optical domain has attracted
much attention due to the well-known advantages such
as ultrahigh bandwidth, low transmission loss, and
immunity to electromagnetic interference [1,2]. During
the last decades, many approaches have been investigated to generate microwave signal, such as optical
injection locking [3], optical phase-lock loop [4], optoelectronic oscillator [5], and external modulation [617].
Among these methods, the external modulation based on
phase modulators (PMs), MachZehnder modulators
(MZMs), or polarization modulators (PolMs) has shown
great potential for high-frequency microwave generation
because of low phase noise, good frequency tunability,
and easy implementation.
An optical frequency doubling scheme based on an
MZM was rstly reported in 1992 [6]. Through the following years, many optical frequency quadrupling
schemes were proposed using a single MZM [7] or PolM
[8], a dual-parallel MachZehnder modulator (DPMZM)
with one driver [9] or two drivers [10], or two cascaded
MZMs [11,12].
Several optical frequency sextuplers have been also
proposed. In [13], a PolM and a notch lter are utilized
to realize the frequency-sextupling. In [14], the frequency sextupled signal is optically generated with the
structure of an intensity modulator and a PM in series.
The optical frequency sextupling can be also achieved
*Corresponding author. Email: ajwen@xidian.edu.cn
2015 Taylor & Francis

by cascading two MZMs [12], or cascading an MZM


and a DPMZM [15].
Photonic microwave signal generation with higher
frequency multiplication factors, such as frequency octupling, is not easy to realize because of the limited modulation index (MI) and too many optical harmonic
sidebands that deteriorate the purity of the generated signal. In [12] and [16], a photonic frequency octupler
based on two cascaded MZMs was proposed, where two
MZMs are biased at the maximum transmission points
and the MIs are controlled at 1.699 to suppress the optical carrier. The other scheme based on two cascaded
MZMs proposed in [16] is to use a high-reectivity ber
Bragg grating (FBG) to suppress the optical carrier. In
[17], a photonic frequency octupling scheme based on a
DPMZM was proposed, where an FBG is also used to
suppress the optical carrier. However, it is difcult to
fabricate a high-reectivity FBG with a narrow bandwidth. For example, the bandwidth of an FBG with a
reectivity of 99.9% is usually above 10 GHz, which
will limit the minimum frequency of the signal that can
be generated, thus reducing the frequency tunability of
the system. Furthermore, the stability of the FBG is a
problem. The wavelength of the FBG must be exactly
aligned to the optical carrier, but even for an athermal
FBG, the wavelength will move by a few GHz over the
typical temperature range and a drift will also exist under
physical stress.

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Y. Gao et al.

In this study, a photonic frequency octupling scheme


based on bidirectional use of a DPMZM in a Sagnac
loop is proposed. Two low-frequency signals with a
phase difference of 90 are applied to drive the two submodulators in the DPMZM, respectively. The dc biases
of the DPMZM are all set at the maximum transmission
points. The clockwise light wave is effectively modulated in the DPMZM, and an optical signal with a carrier
and 4th order sidebands is generated. Due to the velocity mismatch of the modulator, the modulation efciency
of the counterclockwise light wave is very low and can
be ignored [18]. By properly adjusting the polarization
of the light output from the Sagnac loop, the optical carrier can be signicantly suppressed at a polarizer, so an
optical signal with only 4th order sidebands is obtained.
In our experiment, a 24-GHz microwave signal with an
electrical spurious suppression ratio (ESSR) of 16.1 dB
is generated using a 3-GHz local oscillator (LO) signal.
The phase noise performance of the generated microwave signal is also evaluated. The optical carrier in the
proposed scheme is suppressed using the Sagnac loop
and it has no strict requirements for the MIs, so it is
easier to implement as compared with the schemes with
specic MIs proposed in [12] and [16]. In addition, as
no electrical or optical lter is utilized, the proposed
photonic frequency octupler exhibits the advantage of
good frequency tunability as compared with the schemes
using lters proposed in [16] and [17].
2. Principle
The schematic diagram of the proposed photonic microwave frequency octupling scheme is shown in Figure 1.
A light wave from a laser diode (LD) is injected to a
polarization beam splitter (PBS) though an optical circular (OC). By adjusting a polarization controller after the
LD (PC1), the light wave is split into two orthogonally
polarized light waves equal in power. The light wave
output from port 1 travels through a DPMZM along the
clockwise direction and is modulated by two drive
signals. On the other hand, the light wave from port 2
travels through the DPMZM along the counterclockwise
direction and is not effectively modulated. Then, the two
light waves reach again at the PBS. After polarization
controlled by a second PC, PC2, the combined light
wave is injected into a polarizer.
The optical eld at the output of the LD is given by
Ein t E0 expjxc t , where E0 and c are the amplitude
and the angular frequency of the optical carrier, respectively. The optical signal at the output of port 1 and port
2 can be both expressed as
1
E1 t E2 t p Ein t
2

(1)

Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the proposed microwave


frequency octupling system. LD, laser diode; PC, polarization
controller; OC, optical circular; PBS, polarization beam splitter;
DPMZM, dual-parallel MachZehnder modulator; PD, photodiode; LO, local oscillator; CK, clockwise; CCK, counterclockwise. (a)(f): Optical spectra at different locations in the
system. (The colour version of this gure is included in the
online version of the journal.)

An LO signal with an angular frequency of LO is


divided into two paths. A phase shifter is utilized to
introduce a /2 phase difference between the two paths.
Then, the two-path signals are applied to drive the two
sub-modulators in the DPMZM, respectively. The three
dc biases of the DPMZM are all set at the maximum
transmission points. In order to simplify the analysis, we
assume the modulator has an innite extinction ratio and
has no insertion loss. In the clockwise direction, the optical signal at the output of the upper sub-modulator
(MZMa) can be expressed as



expjm sin xLO t
expjm sin xLO t
P
1
2 Ein t  J2n m expj2nxLO t

ECKa t 14 Ein t 

(2)

2n

where Jn  denotes the nth order Bessel function of the


rst kind and m is the MI. Similarly, the optical signal at
the output of the lower sub-modulator (MZMb) can be
expressed as

Journal of Modern Optics




expjm sinxLO t p=2


expjm sinxLO t p=2
P
12 Ein t  J2n m expj2nxLO t np

ECKb t 14 Ein t 

2n

(3)

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As can be seen from (2) and (3), the odd-order sidebands


are suppressed by biasing the two sub-modulators at the
maximum transmission points, and the optical spectra are
shown in Figure 1(a) and (b), respectively. The parent
modulator is also biased at the maximum transmission
point, and the optical signal at the output of the DPMZM
can be written as
ECK t p12 ECKa t ECKb t 
P
p12 Ein t  J4n m expj4nxLO t

(4)

4n

Thanks to the p=2 phase difference between the two


drive signals and the maximum transmission point of the
parent modulator, the sidebands for 4n + 2 are also suppressed. If higher order sidebands are neglected, the optical signal at the output of the DPMZM can be
approximately expressed as


1
J0 m J4 m expj4xLO t
ECK t  p Ein t 
(5)
J4 m expj4xLO t
2
As can be seen from (5) and Figure 1(c), only the optical
carrier and the 4th order sidebands are left.
Due to the velocity mismatch of the modulator, the
modulation of the light wave in the DPMZM along the
counterclockwise direction is far less effective and can
be ignored. The optical signal at the counterclockwise
output of the DPMZM is shown in Figure 1(d) and can
written as
1
ECCK t p Ein t
2

(6)

Then, the clockwise and counterclockwise light waves


are combined again at the PBS and they are orthogonal
at the output of the PBS, as shown in Figure 1(e).
Before injected to a polarizer, the combined light wave
is polarization controlled by PC2. By adjusting PC2, the
principal axis of the polarizer is aligned at an angle of
to one principal axis of the PBS, and a phase difference
of is introduced between the clockwise and counterclockwise light waves. So we can get the optical signal
at the output of the PBS.
Eout t ECK t 2
cos a ECCK t sin a expju 3
J0 m cos a sin a expju
(7)
p12 Ein t  4 J4 m cos a expj4xLO t 5
J4 m cos a expj4xLO t
In order to suppress the optical carrier, we must let
J0 m cos a sin a expju 0

(8)

Obviously, the optical carrier suppression condition is



a tan1 J0 m
(9)
up
In this case, two pure optical sidebands separated by
eight times the frequency of the drive signals are generated, as shown in Figure 1(f), and can be written as


1
expj4xLO t
(10)
Eout t p Ein t J4 m cos a
expj4xLO t
2
After the beating of the 4th order sidebands at a PD, a
microwave signal with an angular frequency of 8xLO is
generated. As the two sidebands originate from the same
optical source and LO signal, their phases are highly
coherent, so the generated frequency-octupled signal is
predicted to be with low phase noise.
3. Experiment results and discussion
The experimental setup of the proposed photonic
frequency octupling scheme is similar to Figure 1. A
1550-nm optical carrier with a power of 8 dBm and a
relative intensity noise below 145 dB/Hz is generated
from a distributed feedback laser and polarization controlled by PC1. By adjusting PC1, the optical signals at
port 1 and port 2 of the PBS are set to be identical in
power. The pigtails of the PBS and the modulator are all
polarization maintaining bers (PMFs), and the optical
signals in the Sagnac loop are aligned to the slow axis
of the PMFs, so no polarization controllers are necessary
in the loop. A DPMZM (Fujitsu FTM7962EP) with a
half-wave voltage of about 3.5 V is used, with its input
and output ber pigtails connected to port 1 and port 2
of the PBS, respectively. The three dc biases of the
DPMZM are all set at the maximum transmission points.
A 3-GHz sinusoidal signal from a microwave signal
source (Agilent N5183A MXG) is divided into two
paths, and a /2 phase difference between the two paths
is introduced by a phase shifter. Then, the two-path signals are amplied to be about 22 dBm in power before
driving the DPMZM. The optical signal output from the
Sagnac loop is polarization controlled and injected into a
polarizer. After amplied to be 8 dBm in power by an
erbium-doped ber amplier, the optical signal is
detected by a PD (U2T MPDV1120RA) with a 3-dB cutoff frequency of 35 GHz and a responsivity of 0.6 A/W.
Then, the generated electrical signal is analyzed by an
electrical spectrum analyzer (ESA, FSQ26).
The light wave along the clockwise direction is effectively modulated by the drive signals and an optical signal with the carrier and the 4th order sidebands is
obtained at the output of the modulator, as shown in
Figure 2(a), which is in agreement with the analysis in
Section 2. The light wave along the counterclockwise

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Y. Gao et al.

Figure 2. (a) Measured spectrum of the clockwise light wave after efcient modulation. (b) Measured spectrum of the
counterclockwise light wave. (c) Measured spectrum of the light wave after the polarizer. (d) Measured electrical spectrum output
from PD. (The colour version of this gure is included in the online version of the journal.)

direction, however, is not effectively modulated because


of the velocity mismatch of the modulator, and the measured optical signal at the output of the modulator is
shown in Figure 2(b). By properly adjusting the polarization controller before the polarizer to satisfy the optical carrier suppression condition expressed in (9), the
optical carrier is signicantly suppressed by 30 dB, as
shown in Figure 2(c). The optical sideband suppression
ratio is 18.4 dB. The electrical signal after the PD is
shown in Figure 2(d), with an ESSR of 16.1 dB.
The phase noise performance of the photonic frequency octupler is evaluated. The phase noise of the
generated signal has two sources [12]. One is the phase
noise of the drive signal, which will introduce
20 log M M 8  18:1 dB phase noise deterioration,
where M denotes the frequency multiplication factor. The
other source is the noise of the optical system. In
the experiment, the phase noises of the drive signal and
the frequency-octupled signal are measured and shown

Table 1.

in Table 1. As compared with the phase noise of the


drive signal, the phase noise of the microwave signal
after frequency octupling increases by 17.520.2 dB at
some different offset frequencies. The results indicate
that the phase noise performance of the photonic
frequency octupler is basically not deteriorated by the
optical system.
As no optical or electrical lter is used, the proposed
scheme exhibits good frequency tunability. In order to
show this feature, the LO signals with the frequencies of
6, 6.3, 6.6, and 6.9 GHz are applied in turn to drive the
DPMZM. Due to the bandwidth limitation of the PD and
ESA, only the optical spectra are measured. As shown in
Figure 3(a)(d), four optical spectra with their two main
sidebands separated by 48, 50.4, 52.8, and 55.2 GHz are
observed, respectively. Note that the half-wave voltage
of the modulator and the working point of the phase
shifter are frequency dependent, so the modulator biases
and the phase shifter should be ne-tuned when the

Phase noise comparison of the drive signal and the generated frequency-octupled signal.

Offset frequency

100 Hz

1 kHz

10 kHz

100 kHz

Drive signal (dBc/Hz)


Frequency-octupled signal (dBc/Hz)
Deterioration value (dB)

87.1
69.6
17.5

102.6
83.8
18.8

112.3
94.1
18.2

115.7
95.5
20.2

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Journal of Modern Optics

Figure 3. Optical spectra when the frequencies of the drive signal are (a) 6 GHz, (b) 6.3 GHz, (c) 6.6 GHz, and (d) 6.9 GHz.
(The colour version of this gure is included in the online version of the journal.)

frequency of the drive signal is changed to achieve the


best suppression of the other optical sidebands.

by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities [grant number JB142001-9], [grant number K5051301016],
[grant number K5051301010], and in part by the China 111
Project [grant number B08038].

4. Conclusion
An optical frequency octupling system based on bidirectional use of a single DPMZM in a Sagnac loop is proposed and demonstrated. A pure 24-GHz signal with an
ESSR of 16.1 dB is experimentally generated with a
3-GHz LO signal. Phase noise measurements show that
little additional phase noise is introduced to the generated signal by the optical system. Except for the LD and
PD, only one modulator and several passive devices such
as PC, OC, and PBS are used in the system, so itis simple and low cost as compared with other optical microwave signal generation schemes with high frequency
multiplication factors. The scheme also exhibits good
frequency tunability because no optical or electrical lter
is used.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.

Funding
This work was supported in part by the National Natural
Science Foundation of China [grant number 61306061], in part

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