Abstract

A theoretical and experimental performance analysis of a semiconductor optical amplifier-Mach–Zehnder interferometer (SOA-MZI) photonic sampling mixer used as a frequency up-converter is presented employing Switching and Modulation architectures. An active mode-locked laser, generating 2 ps-width pulses at a repetition rate equal to 10 GHz, is used as a sampling source. An optical carrier intensity modulated by a sinusoidal signal at 1 GHz is up-converted to 9 GHz and 39 GHz. High conversion gains (CGs) of about 15 dB are demonstrated for the frequency conversion to 9 GHz using both architectures, whereas up to 4 dB and 9 dB for the conversion to 39 GHz employing switching and modulation architectures, respectively. Small-signal equations for the up-converted signal in both architectures are formulated and developed, which permit to quantify the CG from closed-form expressions. The numerically calculated CG values are in very good agreement with those obtained experimentally. The validated equations are subsequently employed to explain the performance differences between the two architectures in terms of the CG. Furthermore, signals modulated by QPSK and 16-QAM complex modulation formats at different baud rates are up-converted from 750 MHz to 9.25 GHz and 39.75 GHz and their error vector magnitude is evaluated and compared. The maximum bit rate that meets the forward error correction (FEC) limit is achieved using the Modulation architecture. It is 1 Gbps and 512 Mbps for QPSK and 16-QAM modulations, respectively.

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