Create an Account  |   Log In

View All »Matching Part Numbers


Your Shopping Cart is Empty
         

Benchtop High-Speed LiNbO3 Electro-Optic Modulator Drivers


  • Digital Operation up to 12.5 Gb/s or 40 Gb/s
  • Analog (Linear) Operation up to 7 GHz or 20 GHz
  • Built-In RF Amplifier, Bias Control, and Variable Optical Attenuator
  • Accepts External Laser Sources from 1250 to 1610 nm

MX10A

Modulator Driver for Operation up to 12.5 Gb/s

Touchscreen Interface

Related Items


Please Wait
LiNbO3 EO Modulator Driver Block Diagram
Block Diagram of the Internal Setup of the MX10A and MX40A Modulator Drivers. See the Operation tab for details.

Janis Valdmanis, Ph.D. Optics
Ultrafast Optoelectronics
General Manager

We Design, Develop, and Manufacture
Equipment up to 70 GHz

Questions?

Demo Unit Requests?

Product Suggestions?

Custom or OEM Applications?

Contact Me

Features

  • Benchtop Drivers for LiNbO3 Electro-Optic Modulators
  • High-Speed Digital Operation
    • MX10A: 12.5 Gb/s Max System Bit Rate
    • MX40A: 40 Gb/s Max System Bit Rate
  • Analog (Linear) Operation
    • MX10A: Up to 7 GHz Small Signal Bandwidth
    • MX40A: Up to 20 GHz Small Signal Bandwidth
  • RF Amplifier with Amplitude and Eye-Crossing Controls
  • Fully Automatic or Manual Bias Control for Intensity Modulators
    • Peak, Null, and Quadrature Set Points
    • Dithered or Ditherless Operation
  • Built-In Variable Optical Attenuator (VOA) for Automatic or Manual Power Control
  • Control via Touchscreen Interface or Remotely using USB or RS-232 Connections

Thorlabs' High-Speed LiNbO3 Modulator Drivers provide control for fiber-coupled lithium-niobate electro-optic modulators. The operational wavelength range extends from 1250 nm to 1610 nm (O- through L-band), and the user may select from power calibration points at 1310 nm, 1550 nm, and 1590 nm using the touchscreen interface. These instruments are ideal for use either in an R&D laboratory or in a manufacturing environment for creating optical links, performing experiments requiring fast optical modulation, or testing modulators or other components.

These drivers are designed for use with LiNbO3 phase or intensity modulators and provide all the electronics necessary for biasing and RF driving. Depending on the model, each driver is compatible with modulators that can operate at up to speeds of 12.5 Gb/s or 40 Gb/s for digital operation or at a small signal bandwidth of up to 7 GHz or 20 GHz for analog operation. The internal circuitry enables bias control with peak, null, and quadrature set points. The drivers also include a series of power monitors at the laser input, modulator output, and final optical output, as well as a variable optical attenuator, for fully automatic monitoring and control of optical power along the entire optical path. See the Operation tab for more information on the system.

The MX10A and MX40A can be controlled in two ways. The simplest method is using the intuitive touchscreen interface, which gives the user complete control over all instrument functionality. These instruments can also be operated remotely via the RS-232 or USB ports on the back panel. The Operation tab describes graphical user interface (GUI) and user-customizable features, and we provide a remote control user guide and a remote control software tool (see the Software tab) for download.

The instruments featured here contain only the electronics for biasing and driving the modulators and do not include an intensity or phase modulator. For all-in-one instruments that include an intensity or phase modulator, modulator driver, and tunable laser, see our Reference Transmitters and our Optical Transmitters with Phase Modulators.

Power and Environmental Specifications
Parameter Min Max
Main AC Voltage 100 VAC 250 VAC
Power Consumption - 60 VA
Line Frequency 50 Hz 60 Hz
Operating Temperature 10 °C 40 °C
Storage Temperature 0 °C 50 °C
Humiditya 5% Relative Humidity 85% Relative Humidity
  • Non-Condensing Environment
Item # MX10A MX40A
System
Optical Input Power 20 dBm (Maximum)
22 dBm (Absolute Max.)
External Laser Wavelength Range 1250 - 1610 nm
Power Calibration Points 1310 nm, 1550 nm, and 1590 nm
Maximum Bit Rate (Digital Signal) 12.5 Gb/s 40 Gb/s
Small Signal Bandwidtha 7 GHz 20 GHz
Low Frequency Cutoff 100 kHz
Amplifier RF Input (Linear Response)b 100 mV (Maximum) 120 mV (Maximum)
Amplifier RF Input (Digital Mode)c 400 mV (Typical)
3.5 V (Maximum)
4 V (Absolute Max)
400 mV (Typical)
4 V (Maximum)
6 V (Absolute Max)
Maximum Amplifier DC Input ±15 V ±10 V
Maximum Bias Voltage to Modulator ±10 V (≥50 Ω Input Impedance)
Internal Fiber PM Ports: PM Panda-Style Fiber
SM Port: SMF-28-Compatible Fiber
Fiber Connectors FC/PC, 2.0 mm Narrow Key
Electrical Connectors SMA Female
Internal Amplifier
Rise/Fall Timed 35 ps 8 ps
RF Amplifier Gain 34 dB 30 dB
RF Amplifier Maximum Output Swing 3 V - 7 V (Adjustable)
Electrical Return Losse -10 dB (Typical)
Internal Control
Power Monitor Accuracy ±0.5 dBm at Power Calibration Points
Power Monitor Resolution 0.01 dBm
Power Monitor Insertion Loss (Typical) 0.1 dB per Monitor
VOA Insertion Loss (Typical) 0.4 dB
VOA Attenuation 20 dB (Max)
VOA Response Time 1 s
  • Linear, Analog Response
  • <5% Total Harmonic Distortion at 1 GHz
  • Peak to Peak
  • Large Signal, Digital Response
  • Any RF Port

System Overview

The block diagram below provides a basic illustration of the internal setup of the modulator drivers. The external laser is directed into the driver and through Monitor 1 before exiting to the external modulator. The output of the modulator then returns into the instrument and passes through the VOA-based power control system on its way to the output on the front panel. The drivers include a high-performance RF amplifier for driving the modulator. Automatic bias control is added for use with intensity modulators. The rear panel features output ports for several additional monitor and control functions.

LiNbO3 EO Modulator Driver Block Diagram
Block Diagram of the Internal Setup of the MX10A and MX40A Modulator Drivers

Touchscreen Interface

These instruments can be fully controlled by using the resistive touchscreen display, which is sensitive to finger pressure or the tap of a plastic stylus. Additionally, the knob on the front panel of the housing can be used in place of the on-screen arrow buttons for quickly changing set-point values. Pressing (clicking) the knob will confirm a new set-point value.

LiNbO3 EO Modulator Driver Main Menu
Click to Enlarge

Main Menu (Home Screen) of the MX10A and MX40A

Home Screen
The home screen is organized in three main sections.

  • Left Column:
    • Buttons show the on/off status of the different instrument functions
    • Tap a button to toggle the function on/off.
  • Middle Column:
    • Current operating parameters of each control function are shown.
    • Tap in this column to access the Settings page for each function.
  • Right Column:
    • Buttons provide access to various utility and help functions.
    • Tap to review and customize system settings..

The basic layout can be seen in the screenshots to the right. The green dot that appears in the upper-right of the center column panels indicates that those functions are stable. The dot will blink if that function is still stabilizing.

LiNbO3 EO Modulator Driver System Wavelength Settings Screen
Click to Enlarge

System Wavelength Selection Screen

System Wavelength Setting
The System Wavelength may be selected on the Menu page, shown to the right. The choice of system wavelength specifies which calibration settings to apply to the intensity monitors in the modulator driver. The MX instruments can be used at wavelengths anywhere between 1250 nm and 1610 nm, but the power monitors are only calibrated at three main wavelengths: 1310 nm, 1550 nm, and 1590 nm. These wavelengths represent the centers of the O-Band, C-Band, and L-Band and therefore provide the user with accurate power readings at or near those wavelengths.

LiNbO3 EO Modulator Driver Digital Amplifier Settings Screen
Click to Enlarge

Amplifier Settings Screen

Amplifier Settings
Each modulator driver includes a high-performance RF amplifier that provides a fixed gain to a user-supplied input signal. Users can select analog or digital operating mode for the amplifier. Analog operation allows for maximum linear modulation with low distortion. In digital mode, both the output swing and crossing point can be adjusted by the user while the gain is held constant. This adjustment allows the user to optimize the bit-error-rate (BER) performance by adjusting the amplifier’s internal threshold levels.

LiNbO3 EO Modulator Driver Bias Settings Screen
Click to Enlarge

Bias Settings Screen

Bias Settings (For Use with Intensity Modulators Only)
When driving an intensity modulator, the MX10A and MX40A provide four modes for bias control. Users can select whether to use the peak, null, or quadrature point of the transfer function as the set point. Additionally, a manual mode allows the user to select any point of the transmission function to be used as the set point for the modulator bias.

These instruments can also provide bias control with or without a dither tone. For bias control with dither, users can select the amplitude and frequency that work best with their applications. For applications that require the highest SNR, the dither tone can be turned off. In this case, the bias will simply be held at the previous bias voltage. For longer term measurements, the Manual Constant Ratio mode provides another option for stabilizing the bias point. This mode operates by holding the ratio of modulator input light (Monitor 1 in the block diagram above) to modulator output light (Monitor 2) at a constant, user-set value.

LiNbO3 EO Modulator Driver Variable Optical Attenuator Settings Screen
Click to Enlarge

VOA Settings Screen

VOA Settings
On this screen, the user can control the optical output power via the Variable Optical Attenuator (VOA). The VOA can be operated in one of two modes: Constant Attenuation or Constant Output Power. In Constant Attenuation mode, the attenuation level between the output of the modulator and the output of the entire unit remains fixed, allowing power changes at the input to be transferred to the output. In Constant Output Power Mode, the final optical output power is held constant independent of the input fluctuations. In this mode, the VOA is effectively used as a power stabilizer.

Rear Panel

The rear panel provides additional utility functions such as the power monitor output, RS-232, and USB ports. The USB interface is currently used only for firmware upgrades that are made available on the Thorlabs website. Future revisions of the firmware will provide for remote control of the instrument’s functions.

Front Panel

MX10A MX40A LiNbO3 EO Modulator Driver Front Panel
Click to Enlarge

MX10A Front Panel
Callout Description
1 Touchscreen Display and Control
2 Value Adjustment Knob
3 Earth Ground Port for ESD Wrist Strap Banana Plug
4a Laser In for External Laser Source,
Accepts PM Fiber with FC/PC Connector
5a Laser Output to Modulator Input,
Accepts PM Fiber with FC/PC Connector
6b Return from Modulator Output,
FC/PC Connector
7b Optical Out: Final Optical Output,
FC/PC Connector
8 Amplifier RF Out: Signal to Modulator,
SMA Female
9 Bias Output to Modulator,
SMA Female
10 Amplifier RF In: Signal Input to Amplifier,
SMA Female
11 On/Standby Button
  • Uses PM Panda Fiber for Internal Connection
  • Uses SMF-28-Compatible Fiber for Internal Connection

Back Panel

MX10A MX40A LiNbO3 EO Modulator Driver Back Panel
Click to Enlarge

MX10A Back Panel
Callout Description
1a I/O Control Port
Outputs from Three Integrated Power Monitors
2a RS-232 Control Port
3 USB Port (Type B)
4 AC Power Cord Connector
5 Fuse Tray
6 AC Power Switch
  • See the Pin Diagrams tab for pin assignments.

I/O DB15 Connector (Female)

I/O DB15 Connector

The I/O connector provides analog outputs from the three power monitors.

Pin Description Pin Description
1 Power Monitor 1 9 Analog Ground
2 Power Monitor 2 10 Analog Ground
3 Power Monitor 3 11 Reserved for Future Use
4 Reserved for Future Use 12 Reserved for Future Use
5 Analog Ground 13 Monitor 1 Gain Indicator
6 Analog Ground 14 Monitor 2 Gain Indicator
7 Analog Ground 15 Monitor 3 Gain Indicator
8 Analog Ground - -

RS-232 Connector (Male)

RS-232 Connector

The RS-232 connector is provided for firmware upgrades and will support remote operation in the future.

Pin Description
1 Not Connected
2 RS232 Input
3 RS232 Output
4 Not Connected
5 Digital Ground
6 Not Connected
7 Not Connected
8 Not Connected
9 Not Connected

USB, Type B (Female)

USB Type B Connector

The USB connector is provided for firmware upgrades and will support remote operation in the future.

Each Modulator Driver includes:

  • Modulator Driver Main Unit
  • Power Cord According to Local Supply (Determined by Ordering Location)
  • 1.25 A, 250 VAC Fuse
  • USB Type A to Type B Cable, 6' Long
Screen Capture of the TLX Laser Remote Control Tool Software V1.6
Click to Enlarge

The GUI of the Remote Control Software Tool 

Software for the MX10A and MX40A EO Modulator Drivers

Control the Modulator Drivers Remotely via Serial Commands
Serial commands sent to the MX10A or MX40A modulator driver can control the functionality of the internal RF amplifier, EO modulator bias controller, and variable optical attenuator (VOA), as well as general system parameter settings. The commands can be sent from a computer running any operating system to the RS-232 port on the back panel of the MX10A or MX40A. Computers running Windows® 7, or later versions of the operating system, can send serial commands to the USB port on the back panel of the MX10A or MX40A. The touchscreen interface remains active while the modulator driver is controlled remotely. Descriptions of how to connect a controlling computer to the modulator driver, the serial command set, and descriptions of each command are included in the Remote Control User Guide.

Application Demonstrating GUI-Based Remote Control of the Modulator Drivers
The Remote Control Software Tool, which is available for download, is an example graphical user interface (GUI) provided for testing, demonstrating, and exploring the use of the different serial commands. This program is not required to operate the modulator driver remotely. It opens a connection to the laser source and sends commands in response to buttons clicked by users. Commands sent to the MX10A or MX40A, responses from it, and status information messages are logged to the three rectangular fields located beneath the buttons. Please see the Remote Control User Guide for more information. This program can be used as a basis for the development of custom applications. Please contact us to request the source code.

Software

Version 1.6.1 (September 26, 2017)

Click on the link below to download the Remote Control Software Tool.

Software Download

Firmware Update

Version 1.6.2 (November 15, 2017)

Click on the link below to download the latest firmware.

Software Download

Janis Valdmanis, Ph.D. Optics
Ultrafast Optoelectronics
General Manager

Custom and OEM Options

When your application requirements are not met by our range of catalog products or their variety of user-configurable features, please contact me to discuss how we may serve your custom or OEM needs.  

Request a Demo Unit

Explore the benefits of using a Thorlabs high-speed instrument in your setup and under your test conditions with a demo unit. Contact me for details.

Contact Me
MX40B with cover removed
Click to Enlarge

 The MX40B Digital Reference Transmitter

Design, Manufacturing, and Testing Capabilities

Thorlabs' Ultrafast Optoelectronics Team designs, develops, and manufactures high-speed components and instrumentation for a variety of photonics applications having frequency responses up to 70 GHz. Our extensive experience in high-speed photonics is supported by core expertise in RF/microwave design, optics, fiber optics, optomechanical design, and mixed-signal electronics. As a division of Thorlabs, a company with deep vertical integration and a portfolio of over 20,000 products, we are able to provide and support a wide selection of equipment and continually expand our offerings.

Our catalog and custom products include a range of integrated fiber-optic transmitters, modulator drivers and controllers, detectors, receivers, pulsed lasers, variable optical attenuators, and a variety of accessories. Beyond these products, we welcome opportunities to design and produce custom and OEM products that fall within our range of capabilities and expertise. Some of our key capabilities are:

  • Detector and Receiver Design, to 70 GHz
  • Fiber-Optic Transmitter Design, to 70 GHz
  • RF & Microwave Design and Simulation
  • Design of Fiber-Optic and Photonics Sub-Assemblies
  • High-Speed Testing, to 70 GHz
  • Micro-Assembly and Wire Bonding
  • Hermetic Sealing of Microwave Modules
  • Fiber Splicing of Assemblies
  • Custom Laser Engraving
  • Qualification Testing

Overview of Custom and Catalog Products  

Our catalog product line includes a range of integrated fiber-optic transmitters, modulator drivers and controllers, detectors, pulsed lasers, and accessories. In addition to these, we offer related items, such as receivers and customized catalog products. The following sections give an overview of our spectrum of custom and catalog products, from fully integrated instruments to component-level modules.  

Fiber-Optic Instruments

To meet a range of requirements, our fiber-optic instruments span a variety of integration levels. Each complete transmitter includes a tunable laser, a modulator with driver amplifier and bias controller, full control of optical output power, and an intuitive touchscreen interface. The tunable lasers, modulator drivers, and modulator bias controllers are also available separately. These instruments have full remote control capability and can be addressed using serial commands sent from a PC.

  • Fiber-Optic Transmitters, to 70 GHz
  • Linear and Digital Transmitters
  • Electrical-to-Optical Converters, to 70 GHz
  • Modulator Drivers
  • Modulator Bias Controllers
  • C- and L-Band Tunable Lasers 

Customization options include internal laser sources, operating wavelength ranges, optical fiber types, and amplifier types.

Fiber-Optic Components

Our component-level, custom and catalog fiber-optic products take advantage of our module design and hermetic sealing capability. Products include detectors with frequency responses up to 50 GHz, and we also specialize in developing fiber-optic receivers, operating up to and beyond 40 GHz, for instrumentation markets. Closely related products include our amplifier modules, which we offer upon request, variable optical attenuators, microwave cables, and cable accessories.

  • Hermetically-Sealed Detectors, to 50 GHz
  • Fiber-Optic Receivers, to 40 GHz
  • Amplifier Modules
  • Electronic Variable Optical Attenuators
  • Microwave Cables and Accessories 

Customization options include single mode and multimode optical fiber options, where applicable, and detectors optimized for time or frequency domain operation.

Free-Space Instruments

Our free-space instruments include detectors with frequency responses around 1 GHz and pulsed lasers. Our pulsed lasers generate variable-width, nanosecond-duration pulses, and a range of models with different wavelengths and optical output powers are offered. User-adjustable repetition rates and trigger in/out signals provide additional flexibility, and electronic delay-line products enable experimental synchronization of multiple lasers. We can also adapt our pulsed laser catalog offerings to provide gain-switching capability for the generation of pulses in the 100 ps range.

  • Pulsed Lasers with Fixed 10 ns Pulse Duration
  • Pulsed Lasers with Variable Pulse Width and Repetition Rates
  • Electronic Delay Units to Synchronize NPL Series Pulsed Lasers
  • Amplified Detectors

Customization options for the pulsed lasers include emission wavelength, optical output powers, and sub-nanosecond pulse widths.


Please Give Us Your Feedback
 
Email Feedback On
(Optional)
Contact Me:
Your email address will NOT be displayed.
 
 
Please type the following key into the field to submit this form:
Click Here if you can not read the security code.
This code is to prevent automated spamming of our site
Thank you for your understanding.
  
 
Would this product be useful to you?   Little Use  1234Very Useful

Enter Comments Below:
 
Characters remaining  8000   
Posted Comments:
Poster:roptics
Posted Date:2016-05-12 14:36:37.483
This looks like a nice design is a 100 Gb/s version in the works?
Poster:besembeson
Posted Date:2016-05-17 08:32:23.0
Response from Bweh at Thorlabs USA: Thanks for your interest. We are working on such higher bandwidth modulator drivers with matching amplifiers. I will contact you to further discuss your requirements.
Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available / Ships
MX10A Support Documentation
MX10ABenchtop Modulator Driver, 12.5 Gb/s Max
$10,025.00
Today
MX40A Support Documentation
MX40ABenchtop Modulator Driver, 40 Gb/s Max
$15,850.00
Lead Time
Log In  |   My Account  |   Contact Us  |   Careers  |   Privacy Policy  |   Home  |   FAQ  |   Site Index
Regional Websites: West Coast US | Europe | Asia | China | Japan
Copyright 1999-2017 Thorlabs, Inc.
Sales: 1-973-300-3000
Technical Support: 1-973-300-3000


High Quality Thorlabs Logo 1000px:Save this Image