Abstract

The noise figure of silicon Raman amplifiers in the presence of nonlinear losses is calculated. The impact of two-photon absorption (TPA) and free-carrier scattering on the noise figure is quantified using the quantum formulation of the Langevin approach. It is found that TPA-induced free-carrier loss degrades the noise figure by an amount that depends on the carrier lifetime. For example, in a 1-cm-long waveguide pumped at 200 MW/cm<sup>2</sup>, the noise figure is 5.2 dB for a lifetime of τ=1.6 ns and is reduced to 3.7 dB for τ= = 0.1 ns. The reduction in the noise figure along with a concomitant increase in Raman gain from 2 to 8 dB suggests that lifetimes on the order of 0.1 ns or less are needed to create a useful silicon Raman amplifier that operates in the continuous-wave mode. It is also shown that in devices that use a p-n junction for carrier sweep-out, the screening of the junction field by generated free carriers results in a sharp increase in the noise figure at high-pump intensities. These results apply to operation in the near-infrared communication wavelengths. For mid-infrared wavelengths above the two photon absorption band-edge (2.3 nm), the absence of TPA and pump-induced free-carrier absorption ensures that the amplifier has a low-noise figure.

© 2008 IEEE

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