Fiber-Coupled, Rack-Mounted Tunable O-Band Laser Source


  • Wavelength Range: 1250 nm to 1350 nm
  • Tuning Resolution: 10 pm
  • Wavelength Accuracy: ±50 pm
  • Sweep Speeds up to 400 nm/s
  • Remote Control via USB or RS-232 Connections

TLX3

Tunable Laser Source, O-Band

Software GUI Interface

TLX3 Software GUI

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Key Specifications
Output Powera 10 - 40 mW
Power Stability ±0.02 dB
Power Repeatability ±0.05 dB
Wavelength Accuracy ±50 pm
Wavelength Stability ±30 pm
Wavelength Repeatability ±20 pm
Tuning Resolution 10 pm
Linewidth <500 MHz
  • This spec depends on the wavelength; see the spectral response graph on the Specs tab.
TLX3 Tunable Laser GUI
Click to Enlarge

The TLX3 Tunable Laser operation mode can be changed to manual, stepped-sweep, or continuous sweep using the software GUI. See the Software tab for more information.

Features

  • O-Band Tunable Laser (1250 nm - 1350 nm)
  • Three Operating Modes: Manual, Step Sweep, or Continuous Sweep
  • PM Fiber Output with Narrow-Key FC/APC Connector
  • Trigger Signal and Clock Output for Synchronization with External Instrumentation
  • Control via Included Software GUI or SCPI Commands
  • 2U Housing Designed for 19" Racks

Thorlabs' TLX3 O-Band Tunable Laser is a turnkey, self-contained, tunable laser for the O-Band (1250 nm to 1350 nm) wavelength range based on the use of a fiber-coupled, semiconductor gain module and an intracavity tunable filter. This instrument has no moving parts, which enables continuous wavelength tuning at up to 400 nm/s, as well as 10 pm tuning resolution and ±50 pm wavelength accuracy. With output power in the 10 mW to 40 mW range and polarization-maintaining single mode output, it is an ideal source for communication applications and manufacturing testing. For maximum measurement flexibility, this tunable laser can be operated in three modes, which include manual, stepped sweep, and continuous sweep.

The optical output for this instrument is fiber-coupled via an FC/APC connector, and single mode or polarization maintaining fiber patch cables designed for operation in the O-band wavelength range can be connected. Note that the polarization axis is aligned with the narrow key of the bulkhead connector, as well as the slow-axis of the connected PM fiber.

BNC connectors for a Trigger Out and a Sync Clock Output are included on the back panel of this laser. The Trigger Out connector provides a 4.1 V digital signal for synchronizing external instruments to the Stepped Sweep and Continuous Sweep modes, while the Sync Clock Output provides a series of 3.3 V pulses for synchronizing to the continuous sweep of the laser. For more details on these outputs, please see the user guide.

Software
A user-friendly GUI is included with this instrument, which allows the user to select between the manual, stepped sweep, and continuous sweep modes. Operating parameters for each mode can also be set within the GUI, and direct readout of the operating wavelength and output power are also provided. Please see the Software tab for more information on each operating mode.

This laser can also be operated without the software GUI via SCPI-type serial commands, which requires the instrument to be connected to the PC using the RS-232 or USB ports (see Pin Diagrams tab) on the back panel. A programming guide containing supporting commands is available for download. Note that the software GUI installer also installs the required driver for USB remote control. The installer is not required for remote control over the RS-232 interface.

A Boot Mode button and LED indicator for use during firmware updates is also included on the back panel of this instrument. Note that this button is not used in normal operation and instructions for using this button will be included with the release of firmware updates.

Mounting
Designed for use with a standard 19" equipment rack, the TLX3 laser housing has a height of 2U and includes mounting brackets. Each bracket has two 0.28" x 0.28" (7.0 mm x 7.2 mm) slots for standard rack mounting screws, which are not included.

O-Band Tunable Laser Spectral Response
Click to Enlarge

Click for Raw Data
Typical Spectral Response for the TLX3 Tunable Laser
Item # TLX3a
Wavelength Range (Typ.) 1250 - 1350 nm
Output Powerb 10 - 40 mW
Power Stability ±0.02 dB
Power Repeatability ±0.05 dB
Wavelength Accuracy ±50 pm
Wavelength Stability ±30 pm
Wavelength Repeatability ±20 pm
Tuning Resolution 10 pm
ASE Ratioc >60 dB
RIN Noise -145 dB/Hz
Linewidth <500 MHz
Cavity Mode Spacing 25 MHz
Tuning Time (Manual Mode)d 100 ms
Transition Time (Step Mode)e 300 ms
Dwell Time (Step Mode)f 100 ms - 60 s
Sweep Speed Rangeg 50 - 400 nm/s
Output Connector FC/APC (PM) 
Output Fiberh Single-Mode PM
Polarization Extinction Ratio >15 dB
Operating Conditions 10 - 35 °C, 5 - 85% Relative Humidity
Housing Sizei 17.0" x 15.9" x 3.4" (432 mm x 404 mm x 86 mm)
Supply Voltage 100 - 250 VAC, 50/60 Hz
Trigger Out Levels (Digital) 0 - 4.1 V
Clock Out Levels (Digital) 0 - 3.3 V
  • All specifications are typical at 25 °C after 1 hour warm-up time.
  • This depends on the wavelength; see the Typical Spectral Response graph to the right.
  • 0.1 nm Bandwidth, 1 nm from Center
  • Between Any Two Wavelengths
  • In Stepped Mode
  • Does Not Include Transition Time
  • Continuous Sweep Mode
  • The slow-axis of the fiber is aligned to the connector key.
  • 2RU Rack Mount Chassis

Front and Back Panels

Back Panel
Callout Description
1 Main Power Connection
2 Indicator LED for Firmware Upgrades
3 Trigger Signal (BNC Female Connector)
4 Clock Output (BNC Female Connector)
5 RS-232 Port (DB9 Female Connector)
6 USB Port (USB Type B Connector)
7 Boot Mode Buttona
  • The Boot Mode button is NOT a "Reset" button. This button is only used during firmware updates and instructions for using this button will be included with the release of firmware updates.
Front Panel
Callout Description
1 Indicator Light for Laser Output
2 Indicator Light for Laser Power
3 Power Switch
4 PM FC/APC Fiber Output

Software

Version 1.0.3

Click the link below to download the TLX3 Laser Software.

Software Download

Software for the TLX3 Tunable O-Band Laser Source

Control the Laser Source via the TLX3 Software GUI
The TLX3 Laser Software is designed for straightforward use of the TLX3 Tunable O-Band Laser Source. This software GUI provides full control over the laser, and allows the user to power the laser on and off, select the operation mode, and set system parameters. Laser status, operating wavelength, and laser power are also provided. The software requires a computer running Windows® 7 or 10 operating systems.

Control the Laser Source via Serial Commands
Serial commands sent to the TLX3 laser can turn the laser on or off, set general system parameters, and set sweep parameters. The commands can be sent from a computer running Windows® 7 or 10 operating systems to the USB or RS-232 ports on the back panel of the instrument. Descriptions of each command are included in the Programming Guide. Note that the software GUI installer also installs the required driver for USB remote control.
The installer is not required for remote control over the RS-232 interface.


Laser Operation Modes

TLX3 Tunable Laser GUI
Click to Enlarge

Manual Mode: allows the user to precisely step the operating wavelength manually. The operating wavelength can be set directly in the "Wavelength Target" box or by dragging the yellow indicator above the wavelength scale. The step size can be set in the "Wavelength Step" box, and the wavelength can be stepped up or down using the "+" or "-" indicators, respectively.
TLX3 Tunable Laser GUI
Click to Enlarge

Continuous Sweep: allows the user to automatically sweep across a wavelength range. The beginning and ending wavelengths can be set in the "Start" and "Stop" boxes, or the range can be set by dragging the yellow indicators above the wavelength scale. The active range appears red on the scale. The user can set the sweep speed and number of cycles (fixed number or infinite).
TLX3 Tunable Laser GUI
Click to Enlarge

Stepped Sweep: allows the user to automatically step across a wavelength range. The beginning and ending wavelengths can be set in the "Start" and "Stop" boxes, or the range can be set by dragging the yellow indicators above the wavelength scale. The active range appears red on the scale. The user can also set the step size, dwell time, and the number of sweep cycles (fixed number or infinite).

RS-232 Connector (Female)

The RS-232 connector is provided to support remote operation.

Pin Description
1 Not Connected
2 Transmit (Output)
3 Receive (Input)
4 Not Connected
5 Digital Ground
6 Not Connected
7 Not Connected
8 Not Connected
9 Not Connected

USB, Type B (Female)

The USB connector is provided to support remote operation.

Laser Safety and Classification

Safe practices and proper usage of safety equipment should be taken into consideration when operating lasers. The eye is susceptible to injury, even from very low levels of laser light. Thorlabs offers a range of laser safety accessories that can be used to reduce the risk of accidents or injuries. Laser emission in the visible and near infrared spectral ranges has the greatest potential for retinal injury, as the cornea and lens are transparent to those wavelengths, and the lens can focus the laser energy onto the retina. 

Laser Glasses Laser Curtains Blackout Materials
Enclosure Systems Laser Viewing Cards Alignment Tools
Shutter and Controllers Laser Safety Signs

Safe Practices and Light Safety Accessories

  • Laser safety eyewear must be worn whenever working with Class 3 or 4 lasers.
  • Regardless of laser class, Thorlabs recommends the use of laser safety eyewear whenever working with laser beams with non-negligible powers, since metallic tools such as screwdrivers can accidentally redirect a beam.
  • Laser goggles designed for specific wavelengths should be clearly available near laser setups to protect the wearer from unintentional laser reflections.
  • Goggles are marked with the wavelength range over which protection is afforded and the minimum optical density within that range.
  • Laser Safety Curtains and Laser Safety Fabric shield other parts of the lab from high energy lasers.
  • Blackout Materials can prevent direct or reflected light from leaving the experimental setup area.
  • Thorlabs' Enclosure Systems can be used to contain optical setups to isolate or minimize laser hazards.
  • A fiber-pigtailed laser should always be turned off before connecting it to or disconnecting it from another fiber, especially when the laser is at power levels above 10 mW.
  • All beams should be terminated at the edge of the table, and laboratory doors should be closed whenever a laser is in use.
  • Do not place laser beams at eye level.
  • Carry out experiments on an optical table such that all laser beams travel horizontally.
  • Remove unnecessary reflective items such as reflective jewelry (e.g., rings, watches, etc.) while working near the beam path.
  • Be aware that lenses and other optical devices may reflect a portion of the incident beam from the front or rear surface.
  • Operate a laser at the minimum power necessary for any operation.
  • If possible, reduce the output power of a laser during alignment procedures.
  • Use beam shutters and filters to reduce the beam power.
  • Post appropriate warning signs or labels near laser setups or rooms.
  • Use a laser sign with a lightbox if operating Class 3R or 4 lasers (i.e., lasers requiring the use of a safety interlock).
  • Do not use Laser Viewing Cards in place of a proper Beam Trap.

 

Laser Classification

Lasers are categorized into different classes according to their ability to cause eye and other damage. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a global organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies. The IEC document 60825-1 outlines the safety of laser products. A description of each class of laser is given below:

Class Description Warning Label
1 This class of laser is safe under all conditions of normal use, including use with optical instruments for intrabeam viewing. Lasers in this class do not emit radiation at levels that may cause injury during normal operation, and therefore the maximum permissible exposure (MPE) cannot be exceeded. Class 1 lasers can also include enclosed, high-power lasers where exposure to the radiation is not possible without opening or shutting down the laser.  Class 1
1M Class 1M lasers are safe except when used in conjunction with optical components such as telescopes and microscopes. Lasers belonging to this class emit large-diameter or divergent beams, and the MPE cannot normally be exceeded unless focusing or imaging optics are used to narrow the beam. However, if the beam is refocused, the hazard may be increased and the class may be changed accordingly.  Class 1M
2 Class 2 lasers, which are limited to 1 mW of visible continuous-wave radiation, are safe because the blink reflex will limit the exposure in the eye to 0.25 seconds. This category only applies to visible radiation (400 - 700 nm).  Class 2
2M Because of the blink reflex, this class of laser is classified as safe as long as the beam is not viewed through optical instruments. This laser class also applies to larger-diameter or diverging laser beams.  Class 2M
3R Class 3R lasers produce visible and invisible light that is hazardous under direct and specular-reflection viewing conditions. Eye injuries may occur if you directly view the beam, especially when using optical instruments. Lasers in this class are considered safe as long as they are handled with restricted beam viewing. The MPE can be exceeded with this class of laser; however, this presents a low risk level to injury. Visible, continuous-wave lasers in this class are limited to 5 mW of output power.  Class 3R
3B Class 3B lasers are hazardous to the eye if exposed directly. Diffuse reflections are usually not harmful, but may be when using higher-power Class 3B lasers. Safe handling of devices in this class includes wearing protective eyewear where direct viewing of the laser beam may occur. Lasers of this class must be equipped with a key switch and a safety interlock; moreover, laser safety signs should be used, such that the laser cannot be used without the safety light turning on. Laser products with power output near the upper range of Class 3B may also cause skin burns.  Class 3B
4 This class of laser may cause damage to the skin, and also to the eye, even from the viewing of diffuse reflections. These hazards may also apply to indirect or non-specular reflections of the beam, even from apparently matte surfaces. Great care must be taken when handling these lasers. They also represent a fire risk, because they may ignite combustible material. Class 4 lasers must be equipped with a key switch and a safety interlock.  Class 4
All class 2 lasers (and higher) must display, in addition to the corresponding sign above, this triangular warning sign.  Warning Symbol

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Tunable O-Band Source

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