Abstract

Typical phase-sensitive optical time-domain reflectometry (ϕOTDR) schemes rely on the use of coherent rectangular-shaped probe pulses. In these systems, there is a trade-off between the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), spatial resolution, and operating range of the ϕOTDR system. To increase any of these parameters, an increase in the pulse peak power is usually indispensable. However, as it is well known, there is a limit in the allowable increase in probe power due to the onset of undesired nonlinear effects such as modulation instability. In this Letter, we perform an analysis of the effect of the probe pulse shape on the visibility fading due to modulation instability. In particular, four different temporal profiles are chosen: rectangular, Gaussian, triangular, and super-Gaussian (order 2). Our numerical and experimental analyses reveal that the use of triangular or Gaussian-like pulses can significantly inhibit the visibility fading issues. As such, an increase in the range up to twofold for the same pulse energy (i.e., SNR) and nominal spatial resolution can be achieved, as compared with the results obtained when using rectangular pulses. This is due to a more robust behavior of the Gaussian and triangular pulses against the Fermi–Pasta–Ulam recurrence occurring in modulation instability.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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