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ASIC-enabled High Resolution Optical Time Domain Reflectometer


Fiber optics has become the preferred technology in communication systems

because of what it has to offer: high data transmission rates, immunity to electromagnetic interference, and lightweight, flexible cables. An optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) provides a convenient method of locating and diagnosing faults (e.g. break in a fiber) along a fiber that can obstruct crucial optical pathways. Both the ability to resolve the precise location of the fault and distinguish between two discrete, closely spaced faults are figures of merit. This thesis presents an implementation of a high resolution OTDR through the use of a compact and programmable ASIC (application specific integrated circuit). The integration of many essential OTDR functions on a single chip is advantageous over existing commercial instruments because it enables small, lightweight packaging, and offers low power and cost efficiency. Furthermore, its compactness presents the option of placing multiple ASICs in parallel, which can conceivably ease the characterization of densely populated fiber optic networks.

The OTDR ASIC consists of a tunable clock, pattern generator, precise timer, electrical receiver, and signal sampling circuit. During OTDR operation, the chip generates narrow electrical pulse, which can then be converted to optical format when coupled with an external laser diode driver. The ASIC also works with an external photodetector to measure the timing and amplitude of optical reflections in a fiber. It has a 1 cm sampling resolution, which allows for a 2 cm spatial resolution. While this OTDR ASIC has been previously demonstrated for multimode fiber fault diagnostics, this thesis focuses on extending its functionality to single mode fiber.

To validate this novel approach to OTDR, this thesis is divided into five chapters: (1) introduction, (2) implementation, (3), performance of ASIC-based OTDR, (4) exploration in optical pre-amplification with a semiconductor optical amplifier, and (5) conclusion. Thus, it begins by providing background, basic OTDR operation, overview of ASIC functionality, and past experiments done with the ASIC for multimode fiber. Chapter 2 begins the investigation of a high resolution OTDR for single mode fiber. A though explanation of how the OTDR ASIC operates is presented in this chapter, as well as details on the OTDR scheme that has been implemented. Chapter 3 analyzes the performance of the OTDR. Chapter 4 introduces a hybrid silicon semiconductor optical amplifier and discusses its theoretical implication on the OTDR in terms of improving receiver sensitivity. Lastly, a summary of the findings and discussion of other applications lie in Chapter 5.

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