Abstract

We demonstrate a sliding-frequency mode-locked (SFM) erbium fiber laser generating 20ps pulses with center wavelengths rapidly sweeping across a spectral range of 50nm. Excess optical nonlinearity in the laser cavity leads to multipulsing, with a tendency to tight pulse bunching (<3ns) at the fundamental cavity frequency of 25MHz. The addition of a parallel optical delay line, with a path difference equal to a rational fraction of the cavity length, distributes the pulses uniformly across the entire cavity and achieves a harmonic SFM up to 1GHz. The result establishes cavity nonlinearity as a critical design parameter for picosecond wavelength-swept lasers.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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