Incoherent excess noise spectrally encodes broadband light sources.
- Author(s): Kho, Aaron M
- Zhang, Tingwei
- Zhu, Jun
- Merkle, Conrad W
- Srinivasan, Vivek J
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41377-020-00404-6
Across optics and photonics, excess intensity noise is often considered a liability. Here, we show that excess noise in broadband supercontinuum and superluminescent diode light sources encodes each spectral channel with unique intensity fluctuations, which actually serve a useful purpose. Specifically, we report that excess noise correlations can both characterize the spectral resolution of spectrometers and enable cross-calibration of their wavelengths across a broad bandwidth. Relative to previous methods that use broadband interferometry and narrow linewidth lasers to characterize and calibrate spectrometers, our approach is simple, comprehensive, and rapid enough to be deployed during spectrometer alignment. First, we employ this approach to aid alignment and reduce the depth-dependent degradation of the sensitivity and axial resolution in a spectrometer-based optical coherence tomography (OCT) system, revealing a new outer retinal band. Second, we achieve a pixel-to-pixel correspondence between two otherwise disparate spectrometers, enabling a robust comparison of their respective measurements. Thus, excess intensity noise has useful applications in optics and photonics.