This paper describes the demonstration of a simple all-optical data format conversion scheme between return-to-zero (RZ) and nonreturn-to-zero (NRZ) that employs a semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) in a nonlinear optical loop mirror. The format conversion has been performed between the most widely used data formats-NRZ and RZ formats. The format conversion scheme is based on gain variation by an intensity-dependent phase change in an SOA-loop mirror. The input data stream acts as a control signal that induces the phase differences between clockwise-and counterclockwise-propagating data inside an SOA-loop mirror. It is possible to change the data format of the output data stream by controlling the phase differences of the clockwise and counterclockwise pulse in an SOA-loop mirror appropriately. For the converted NRZ data from RZ data, 10-Gb/s error-free transmission up to 78 km over standard single-mode fiber has been obtained. By comparing the conventional NRZ transmission with the Mach-Zehnder modulation scheme, the proposed RZ-to-NRZ conversion shows an improved transmission performance. The NRZ-to-RZ conversion has clear eye openings up to 78 km. On the contrary, the conventional RZ binary data from a mode-locked laser has a nearly closed eye even at 52 km. The converted RZ data has a 2-dB conversion power margin to the injected NRZ data, which indicates an increase in the receiver sensitivity due to the signal format conversion. The improved transmission distance of the converted RZ signal is due to the duobinary coding effect of the SOA-loop mirror. The SOA has the possibility of high-speed operation over 40 Gb/s, and the SOA-loop mirror has the capabilities of format and wavelength conversions. Therefore, the SOA-loop mirror can be a universal building block in future all-optical networks. In addition, the proposed format conversion scheme can serve as an important format converter between the ultrafast optical-time-division-multiplexed networks and the lower line-rate wavelength-division-multiplexed networks.
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