|Publication number||USRE42368 E1|
|Application number||US 12/816,084|
|Publication date||May 17, 2011|
|Filing date||Jun 15, 2010|
|Priority date||Mar 19, 2001|
|Also published as||US6625346, US6661948, US6687431, US6879750, US20020131687, US20020131688, US20020131698, US20040136648, USRE39331, USRE39397, USRE39525, USRE42678|
|Publication number||12816084, 816084, US RE42368 E1, US RE42368E1, US-E1-RE42368, USRE42368 E1, USRE42368E1|
|Inventors||Tai Chen, Jeffrey P. Wilde, Joseph E. Davis|
|Original Assignee||Capella Photonics, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (29), Referenced by (1), Classifications (33), Legal Events (7)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/005,714, filed Nov. 7, 2001 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,687,431, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/938,426, filed Aug. 23, 2001, now U.S. Pat No. 6,625,346 which claims the benefit of U.S. application Ser. No. 60/277,217, filed Mar. 19, 2001.
This invention relates generally to optical communication systems. More specifically, it relates to a novel class of dynamically reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers (OADMs) for wavelength division multiplexed optical networking applications.
As fiber-optic communication networks rapidly spread into every walk of modern life, there is a growing demand for optical components and subsystems that enable the fiber-optic communications networks to be increasingly scalable, versatile, robust, and cost-effective.
Contemporary fiber-optic communications networks commonly employ wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), for it allows multiple information (or data) channels to be simultaneously transmitted on a single optical fiber by using different wavelengths and thereby significantly enhances the information bandwidth of the fiber. The prevalence of WDM technology has made optical add-drop multiplexers indispensable building blocks of modern fiber-optic communication networks. An optical add-drop multiplexer (OADM) serves to selectively remove (or drop) one or more wavelengths from a multiplicity of wavelengths on an optical fiber, hence taking away one or more data channels from the traffic stream on the fiber. It further adds one or more wavelengths back onto the fiber, thereby inserting new data channels in the same stream of traffic. As such, an OADM makes it possible to launch and retrieve multiple data channels (each characterized by a distinct wavelength) onto and from an optical fiber respectively, without disrupting the overall traffic flow along the fiber. Indeed, careful placement of the OADMs can dramatically improve an optical communication network's flexibility and robustness, while providing significant cost advantages.
Conventional OADMs in the art typically employ multiplexers/demultiplexers (e.g, waveguide grating routers or arrayed-waveguide gratings), tunable filters, optical switches, and optical circulators in a parallel or serial architecture to accomplish the add and drop functions. In the parallel architecture, as exemplified in U.S. Pat. No. 5,974,207, a demultiplexer (e.g., a waveguide grating router) first separates a multi-wavelength signal into its constituent spectral components. A wavelength switching/routing means (e.g., a combination of optical switches and optical circulators) then serves to drop selective wavelengths and add others. Finally, a multiplexer combines the remaining (i.e., the pass-through) wavelengths into an output multi-wavelength optical signal. In the serial architecture, as exemplified in U.S. Pat. No. 6,205,269, tunable filters (e.g., Bragg fiber gratings) in combination with optical circulators are used to separate the drop wavelengths from the pass-through wavelengths and subsequently launch the add channels into the pass-through path. And if multiple wavelengths are to be added and dropped, additional multiplexers and demultiplexers are required to demultiplex the drop wavelengths and multiplex the add wavelengths, respectively. Irrespective of the underlying architecture, the OADMs currently in the art are characteristically high in cost, and prone to significant optical loss accumulation. Moreover, the designs of these OADMs are such that it is inherently difficult to reconfigure them in a dynamic fashion.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,204,946 to Askyuk et al. discloses an OADM that makes use of free-space optics in a parallel construction. In this case, a multi-wavelength optical signal emerging from an input port is incident onto a ruled diffraction grating. The constituent spectral channels thus separated are then focused by a focusing lens onto a linear array of binary micromachined mirrors. Each micromirror is configured to operate between two discrete states, such that it either retroreflects its corresponding spectral channel back into the input port as a pass-through channel, or directs its spectral channel to an output port as a drop channel. As such, the pass-through signal (i.e., the combined pass-through channels) shares the same input port as the input signal. An optical circulator is therefore coupled to the input port, to provide necessary routing of these two signals. Likewise, the drop channels share the output port with the add channels. An additional optical circulator is thereby coupled to the output port, from which the drop channels exit and the add channels are introduced into the output port. The add channels are subsequently combined with the pass-through signal by way of the diffraction grating and the binary micromirrors.
Although the aforementioned OADM disclosed by Askyuk et al. has the advantage of performing wavelength separating and routing in free space and thereby incurring less optical loss, it suffers a number of limitations. First, it requires that the pass-through signal share the same port/fiber as the input signal. An optical circulator therefore has to be implemented, to provide necessary routing of these two signals. Likewise, all the add and drop channels enter and leave the OADM through the same output port, hence the need for another optical circulator. Moreover, additional means must be provided to multiplex the add channels before entering the system and to demultiplex the drop channels after exiting the system. This additional multiplexing/demultiplexing requirement adds more cost and complexity that can restrict the versatility of the OADM thus-constructed. Second, the optical circulators implemented in this OADM for various routing purposes introduce additional optical losses, which can accumulate to a substantial amount. Third, the constituent optical components must be in a precise alignment, in order for the system to achieve its intended purpose. There are, however, no provisions provided for maintaining the requisite alignment; and no mechanisms implemented for overcoming degradation in the alignment owing to environmental effects such as thermal and mechanical disturbances over the course of operation.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,906,133 to Tomlinson discloses an OADM that makes use of a design similar to that of Aksyuk et al. There are input, output, drop and add ports implemented in this case. By positioning the four ports in a specific arrangement, each micromirror, notwithstanding switchable between two discrete positions, either reflects its corresponding channel (coming from the input port) to the output port, or concomitantly reflects its channel to the drop port and an incident add channel to the output port. As such, this OADM is able to perform both the add and drop functions without involving additional optical components (such as optical circulators used in the system of Aksyuk et al.). However, because a single drop port is designated for all the drop channels and a single add port is designated for all the add channels, the add channels would have to be multiplexed before entering the add port and the drop channels likewise need to be demutiplexed upon exiting from the drop port. Moreover, as in the case of Askyuk et al., there are no provisions provided for maintaining requisite optical alignment in the system, and no mechanisms implemented for combating degradation in the alignment due to environmental effects over the course of operation.
As such, the prevailing drawbacks suffered by the OADMs currently in the art are summarized as follows:
In view of the foregoing, there is an urgent need in the art for optical add-drop multiplexers that overcome the aforementioned shortcomings in a simple, effective, and economical construction.
The present invention provides a wavelength-separating-routing (WSR) apparatus and method which employ an array of fiber collimators serving as an input port and a plurality of output ports; a wavelength-separator; a beam-focuser; and an array of channel micromirrors.
In operation, a multi-wavelength optical signal emerges from the input port. The wavelength-separator separates the multi-wavelength optical signal into multiple spectral channels, each characterized by a distinct center wavelength and associated bandwidth. The beam-focuser focuses the spectral channels into corresponding spectral spots. The channel micromirrors are positioned such that each channel micromirror receives one of the spectral channels. The channel micromirrors are individually controllable and movable, e.g., continuously pivotable (or rotatable), so as to reflect the spectral channels into selected ones of the output ports. As such, each channel micromirror is assigned to a specific spectral channel, hence the name “channel micromirror”. And each output port may receive any number of the reflected spectral channels.
A distinct feature of the channel micromirrors in the present invention, in contrast to those used in the prior art, is that the motion, e.g., pivoting (or rotation), of each channel micromirror is under analog control such that its pivoting angle can be continuously adjusted. This enables each channel micromirror to scan its corresponding spectral channel across all possible output ports and thereby direct the spectral channel to any desired output port.
In the WSR apparatus of the present invention, the wavelength-separator may be provided by a ruled diffraction grating, a holographic diffraction grating, an echelle grating, a curved diffraction grating, a dispersing prism, or other wavelength-separating means known in the art. The beam-focuser may be a single lens, an assembly of lenses, or other beam-focusing means known in the art. The channel micromirrors may be provided by silicon micromachined mirrors, reflective ribbons (or membranes), or other types of beam-deflecting means known in the art. And each channel micromirror may be pivotable about one or two axes. The fiber collimators serving as the input and output ports may be arranged in a one-dimensional or two-dimensional array. In the latter case, the channel micromirrors must be pivotable biaxially.
The WSR apparatus of the present invention may further comprise an array of collimator-alignment mirrors, in optical communication with the wavelength-separator and the fiber collimators, for adjusting the alignment of the input multi-wavelength signal and directing the spectral channels into the selected output ports by way of angular control of the collimated beams. Each collimator-alignment mirror may be rotatable about one or two axes. The collimator-alignment mirrors may be arranged in a one-dimensional or two-dimensional array. First and second arrays of imaging lenses may additionally be optically interposed between the collimator-alignment mirrors and the fiber collimators in a telecentric arrangement, thereby “imaging” the collimator-alignment mirrors onto the corresponding fiber collimators to ensure an optimal alignment.
The WSR apparatus of the present invention may further include a servo-control assembly, in communication with the channel micromirrors and the output ports. The servo-control assembly serves to monitor the power levels of the spectral channels coupled into the output ports and further provide control of the channel micromirrors on an individual basis, so as to maintain a predetermined coupling efficiency of each spectral channel in one of the output ports. As such, the servo-control assembly provides dynamic control of the coupling of the spectral channels into the respective output ports and actively manages the power levels of the spectral channels coupled into the output ports. (If the WSR apparatus includes an array of collimator-alignment mirrors as described above, the servo-control assembly may additionally provide dynamic control of the collimator-alignment mirrors.) Moreover, the utilization of such a servo-control assembly effectively relaxes the requisite fabrication tolerances and the precision of optical alignment during assembly of a WSR apparatus of the present invention, and further enables the system to correct for shift in optical alignment over the course of operation. A WSR apparatus incorporating a servo-control assembly thus described is termed a WSR-S apparatus, thereinafter in the present invention.
Accordingly, the WSR-S (or WSR) apparatus of the present invention may be used to construct a variety of optical devices, including a novel class of dynamically reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers (OADMs), as exemplified in the following embodiments.
One embodiment of an OADM of the present invention comprises an aforementioned WSR-S (or WSR) apparatus and an optical combiner. The output ports of the WSR-S apparatus include a pass-through port and one or more drop ports, each carrying any number of the spectral channels. The optical combiner is coupled to the pass-through port, serving to combine the pass-through channels with one or more add spectral channels. The combined optical signal constitutes an output signal of the system. The optical combiner may be an N×1 (N≧2) broadband fiber-optic coupler, for instance, which also serves the purpose of multiplexing a multiplicity of add spectral channels to be coupled into the system.
In another embodiment of an OADM of the present invention, a first WSR-S (or WSR) apparatus is cascaded with a second WSR-S (or WSR) apparatus. The output ports of the first WSR-S (or WSR) apparatus include a passthrough port and one or more drop ports. The second WSR-S (or WSR) apparatus includes a plurality of input ports and an exiting port. The configuration is such that the pass-through channels from the first WSR-S apparatus and one or more add channels are directed into the input ports of the second WSR-S apparatus, and consequently multiplexed into an output multi-wavelength optical signal directed into the exiting port of the second WSR-S apparatus. That is to say that in this embodiment, one WSR-S apparatus (e.g., the first one) effectively performs a dynamic drop function, whereas the other WSR-S apparatus (e.g., the second one) carries out a dynamic add function. And there are essentially no fundamental restrictions on the wavelengths that can be added or dropped, other than those imposed by the overall communication system. Moreover, the underlying OADM architecture thus presented is intrinsically scalable and can be readily extended to any number of the WSR-S (or WSR) systems, if so desired for performing intricate add and drop functions in a network environment.
Those skilled in the art will recognize that the aforementioned embodiments provide only two of many embodiments of a dynamically reconfigurable OADM according to the present invention. Various changes, substitutions, and alternations can be made herein, without departing from the principles and the scope of the invention. Accordingly, a skilled artisan can design an OADM in accordance with the present invention, to best suit a given application.
All in all, the OADMs of the present invention provide many advantages over the prior art devices, notably:
The novel features of this invention, as well as the invention itself, will be best understood from the following drawings and detailed description.
In this specification and appending claims, a “spectral channel” is characterized by a distinct center wavelength and associated bandwidth. Each spectral channel may carry a unique information signal, as in WDM optical networking applications.
In operation, a multi-wavelength optical signal emerges from the input port 110-1. The diffraction grating 101 angularly separates the multi-wavelength optical signal into multiple spectral channels, which are in turn focused by the focusing lens 102 into a spatial array of distinct spectral spots (not shown in
For purposes of illustration and clarity, only a selective few (e.g., three) of the spectral channels, along with the input multi-wavelength optical signal, are graphically illustrated in
In the embodiment of
It is known that the diffraction efficiency of a diffraction grating is generally polarization-dependent. That is, the diffraction efficiency of a grating in a standard mounting configuration may be considerably higher for P-polarization that is perpendicular to the groove lines on the grating than for S-polarization that is orthogonal to P-polarization, especially as the number of groove lines (per unit length) increases. To mitigate such polarization-sensitive effects, a quarter-wave plate 104 may be optically interposed between the diffraction grating 101 and the channel micromirrors 103, and preferably placed between the diffraction grating 101 and the focusing lens 102 as is shown in
In the WSR apparatus 100 of
As described above, a unique feature of the present invention is that the motion of each channel micromirror is individually and continuously controllable, such that its position, e.g., pivoting angle, can be continuously adjusted. This enables each channel micromirror to scan its corresponding spectral channel across all possible output ports and thereby direct the spectral channel to any desired output port. To illustrate this capability,
A WSR apparatus of the present invention may further comprise an array of collimator-alignment mirrors, for adjusting the alignment of the input multi-wavelength optical signal and facilitating the coupling of the spectral channels into the respective output ports, as shown in
The embodiment of
In addition to facilitating the coupling of the spectral channels into the respective output ports as described above, the collimator-alignment mirrors in the above embodiments also serve to compensate for misalignment (e.g., due to fabrication and assembly errors) in the fiber collimators that provide for the input and output ports. For instance, relative misalignment between the fiber cores and their respective collimating lenses in the fiber collimators can lead to pointing errors in the collimated beams, which may be corrected for by the collimator-alignment mirrors. For these reasons, the collimator-alignment mirrors are preferably rotatable about two axes. They may be silicon micromachined mirrors, for fast rotational speeds. They may also be other types of mirrors or beam-deflecting elements known in the art.
To optimize the coupling of the spectral channels into the output ports and further maintain the optimal optical alignment against environmental effects such as temperature variations and mechanical instabilities over the course of operation, a WSR apparatus of the present invention may incorporate a servo-control assembly, for providing dynamic control of the coupling of the spectral channels into the respective output ports on a channel-by-channel basis. A WSR apparatus incorporating a servo-control assembly is termed a WSR-S apparatus, thereinafter in this specification.
In the embodiment of
The incorporation of a servo-control assembly provides additional advantages of effectively relaxing the requisite fabrication tolerances and the precision of optical alignment during initial assembly of a WSR apparatus of the present invention, and further enabling the system to correct for shift in the alignment over the course of operation. By maintaining an optimal optical alignment, the optical losses incurred by the spectral channels are also significantly reduced. As such, the WSR-S apparatus thus constructed is simpler and more adaptable in structure, more robust in performance, and lower in cost and optical loss. Accordingly, the WSR-S (or WSR) apparatus of the present invention may be used to construct a variety of optical devices and utilized in many applications.
For instance, by directing the spectral channels into the output ports in a one-channel-per-port fashion and coupling the output ports of a WSR-S (or WSR) apparatus to an array of optical sensors (e.g., photodiodes), or a single optical sensor that is capable of scanning across the output ports, a dynamic and versatile spectral power monitor (or channel analyzer) is provided, which would be highly desired in WDM optical networking applications. Moreover, a novel class of optical add-drop multiplexers (OADMs) may be built upon the WSR-S (or WSR) apparatus of the present invention, as exemplified in the following embodiments.
In the above embodiment, the optical combiner 550 may be a K×1 (K≧2) broadband fiber-optic coupler, wherein there are K input-ends and one output-end. The pass-through spectral channels and the add spectral channels are fed into the K input-ends (e.g., in a one-to-one correspondence) and the combined optical signal exits from the output-end of the K×1 fiber-optic coupler as the output multi-wavelength optical signal of the system. Such a multiple-input coupler also serves the purpose of multiplexing a multiplicity of add spectral channels to be coupled into the OADM 500. If the power levels of the spectral channels in the output multi-wavelength optical signal are desired to be actively managed, such as being equalized at a predetermined value, two spectral monitors may be utilized. As a way of example, the first spectral monitor may receive optical signals tapped off from the pass-through port 530 and the drop ports 540-1 through 540-N (e.g., by way of fiber-optic couplers as depicted in
In the embodiment of
Those skilled in the art will recognize that the aforementioned embodiments provide only two of many embodiments of a dynamically reconfigurable OADM according to the present invention. Those skilled in the art will also appreciate that various changes, substitutions, and alternations can be made herein without departing from the principles and the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. Accordingly, a skilled artisan can design an OADM in accordance with the principles of the present invention, to best suit a given application.
Although the present invention and its advantages have been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions, and alternations can be made herein without departing from the principles and the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention should be determined by the following claims and their legal equivalents.
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|U.S. Classification||385/24, 398/83, 385/37, 385/33, 385/10|
|International Classification||H04J14/02, G02B6/28, G02B6/35, G02B6/34, G02B6/32|
|Cooperative Classification||G02B6/3586, G02B6/29385, G02B6/29391, G02B6/3588, G02B6/32, G02B6/29383, G02B6/34, G02B6/3556, G02B26/0833, G02B6/29395, G02B6/356, G02B6/29313, G02B6/2931, G02B6/3592, G02B6/3512|
|European Classification||G02B6/35R2, G02B6/293W10, G02B6/293W2B4, G02B6/293D2R, G02B6/293W6, G02B6/293D2V, G02B6/293W2B2, G02B6/35E2|
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