Abstract

Wideband real-time analog-to-digital converters are the central tools in waveform analyzers, communication systems, and radar technology. Photonic time-stretch analog-to-digital converters (TSADCs) utilize a broadband optical source and an optical link to extend the capabilities of real-time digitizers, allowing acquisition of wideband radio frequency (RF) signals with high resolution. In the TSADC, it is desirable to improve the signal-to-noise-and-distortion ratio and effective number of bits by increasing the optical power. Here, we numerically evaluate the impact of optical nonlinearity on TSADC performance. It is demonstrated that the optical nonlinearity can impose an upper limit on the effective number of bits and that the RF bandwidth limitation due to dispersion penalty depends on optical power. The trends presented here can also be applied to other optical links in which optical nonlinearity and dispersion are significant.

© 2011 IEEE

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