Abstract

We demonstrate a subharmonically Fourier domain mode-locked wavelength-swept laser source with a substantially reduced cavity fiber length. In contrast to a standard Fourier domain mode-locked configuration, light is recirculated repetitively in the delay line with the optical bandpass filter used as switch. The laser has a fundamental optical round trip frequency of 285kHz and can be operated at integer fractions thereof (subharmonics). Sweep ranges up to 95nm full width centred at 1317nm are achieved at the 15th subharmonic. A maximum sensitivity of 116dB and an axial resolution of 12μm in air are measured at an average sweep power of 12mW. A sensitivity roll-off of 11dB over 4mm and 25dB over 10mm is observed and optical coherence tomography imaging is demonstrated. Besides the advantage of a reduced fiber length, subharmonic Fourier domain mode locking (shFDML) enables simple scaling of the sweep speed by extracting light from the delay part of the resonator. A sweep rate of 570kHz is achieved. Characteristic features of shFDML operation, such as power leakage during fly-back and cw breakthrough, are investigated.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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