Abstract

An approach for phase noise measurement of microwave signal sources based on a microwave photonic frequency down-converter is proposed. Using the same optical carrier, the microwave signal under test is applied to generate two +1st-order optical sidebands by two stages of electro-optical modulations. A time delay is introduced between the two sidebands through a span of fiber. By beating the two +1st-order sidebands at a photodetector, frequency down-conversion is implemented, and phase noise of the signal under test can be calculated thereafter. The system has a very large operation bandwidth thanks to the frequency conversion in the optical domain, and good phase noise measurement sensitivity can be achieved since the signal degradation caused by electrical amplifiers is avoided. An experiment is carried out. The phase noise measured by the proposed system agrees well with that measured by a commercial spectrum analyzer or provided by the datasheet. A large operation bandwidth of 5–40 GHz is demonstrated using the proposed system. Moreover, good phase noise floor is achieved (123dBc/Hz at 1 kHz and 137dBc/Hz at 10 kHz at 10 GHz), which is nearly constant over the full measurement range.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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