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Fiber-Coupled, Benchtop Tunable Laser Sources

  • General Purpose Telecom Tunable Lasers for C-Band or L-Band
  • +13 dBm Laser, 10 kHz Linewidth, Low Noise
  • Built-In Variable Optical Attenuator for Power Control
  • Dither Function Stabilizes Wavelength


Tunable Laser Source,

Touchscreen Interface

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Block Diagram for TLX Tunable Lasers
Click to Enlarge

Block Diagram of the TLX Series Tunable Lasers. See the Operation tab for details.
*Monitor 1 is for internal use within the laser's control loop only.

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

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


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  • Telecom Lasers Tunable on ITU 50 GHz Frequency Grid
    • TLX1: 1528 - 1566 nm (C-Band)
    • TLX2: 1570 - 1609 nm (L-Band)
  • Narrow 10 kHz Linewidth
  • +13 dBm Output Power and Low Noise Operation
  • Built-In Variable Optical Attenuator (VOA) for Automatic or Manual Power Control
  • Frequency Dither Option Aids in Wavelength Stabilization
  • Temperature-Controlled External Cavity Laser with Isolator
  • Full PM Fiber Optical Path
  • Touchscreen Control and Display of Control Signals

These Tunable Laser Sources emit light at wavelengths commonly used in telecom applications, such as WDM component R&D, manufacturing tests and full optical link implementation. The TLX1 emits in the C-band, while the TLX2 emits in the L-band. They have a narrow typical linewidth of 10 kHz. For complete specifications, see the Specs tab. The frequency dither option aids in stabilizing the laser wavelength, while the integrated variable optical attenuator (VOA) provides optical output power control. The functions can be set using the touchscreen interface. See the Operation tab for more information.

The block diagram below shows the internal setup of the instrument implementing a fully PM optical path with FC/PC connectors. The internal laser is routed to the VOA via a PM loop-back cable. Alternatively, it is possible to use an external laser with the VOA by attaching it directly to the VOA input port (VOA In) instead of using the loop-back cable. The laser input port uses PM fiber with light linearly polarized along the slow axis (aligned to the connector key) and can accept a maximum input power of 20 dBm (100 mW). See the Front & Back Panels tab for details on the input and output ports.

The VOA allows for full control of the optical output power with Constant Attenuation and Constant Power modes of operation.

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
C-Band Laser Noise Spectrum
Click to Enlarge

FM Noise Spectrum of the tunable laser. The dither function helps stabilize the wavelength. Turning the dither off provides lower noise.
Laser Tuning
Item # TLX1 TLX2
Tunable Wavelength Range 1528 - 1566 nm 1570 - 1609 nm
Tunable Frequency Range 191.50 - 196.25 THz 186.35 - 190.95 THz
Laser Specifications
Parameter Unit Min Typ Max
Optical Output Power dBm 12.5 13.5 14.5
Frequency Accuracy GHz -1.5 - 1.5
Tuning Resolution GHz - 50 -
Tuning Speed (Between Wavelengths) s - 10 -
Side Mode Suppression Ratio dB 40 55 -
Optical Signal Noise Ratio dB 40 60 -
Intrinsic Linewidth kHz - 10 15
Relative Intensity Noise dB/Hz - - -145
Back Reflection dB - - -14
Polarization Extinction Ratio dB 18 - -
VOA Specifications
Optical Input Power 20 dBm (Max)a
External Laser Wavelength Range 1525 nm - 1610 nm
Optical Insertion Lossb 0.7 dB (Typ)
Power Monitors Accuracyc ±0.5 dBm
Power Monitors Resolution 0.01 dBm
VOA Response Time ≤1 s
  • 22 dBm Absolute Max
  • VOA In to VOA Out
  • At 1550 nm
Housing Specifications
Outer Dimensions (W x D x H)a 250.0 mm x 300.0 mm x 122.0 mm
(9.84" x 11.81" x 4.80")
Internal Fiber PM Panda-Style Fiber
Input/Output Port Fiber Connectors FC/PCb
  • For detailed dimensions, see the mechanical drawing by clicking on the red Docs icon () below.
  • See the Front & Back Panels tab for more details on the input and output ports.

Internal Setup

The block diagram below provides a basic illustration of the internal setup of the tunable lasers. The internal laser is routed via the loop-back cable on the front panel and input to the variable optical attenuator (VOA). Alternatively, the user can connect an external laser to the VOA input port. After the laser passes through the VOA, it exits through the optical output port on the front panel. The rear panel features ports for several additional monitor and control functions.

Block Diagram of TLX Series Tunable Lasers
Block Diagram of the Internal Setup of the Tunable Lasers.
*Monitor 1 is for internal use within the laser's control loop only.
Home Screen of the TLX1 and TLX2
Click to Enlarge

Main Menu (Home Screen) of the TLX1 and TLX2

Touchscreen Interface

These devices can be fully controlled by using the resistive touchscreen display for all functions. Either a finger or plastic stylus can be used to make selections on the screen. 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.

The home screen is organized in three main sections.

  • Left Column: Buttons to turn each instrument function on or off.
  • Middle Column: Reports the current operating parameters of each instrument function. Tap in this column to go to the Settings page for each function.
  • Right Column: Buttons that provide access to various utility and help functions (e.g., control of audio and visual features).

The basic layout can be seen in the screenshots to the right.

Laser Settings Screen of the TLX1 and TLX2
Click to Enlarge

Laser Settings Screen

Laser Settings
From this screen, the user can tune the laser's output wavelength (see the Specs tab for the frequency and wavelength ranges of each device). The laser settings page also allows the user to set the dither function to aid in stabilizing the wavelength. Turning the dither off will result in lower phase and intensity noise; however, the wavelength may drift slightly over time.The noise performance of the laser with and without dither can be seen on the Specs tab. The laser settings screen also provides a readout of many of the laser operating parameters.

VOA Settings Screen of the TLX1 and TLX2
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 laser and the output of the VOA 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 safety and utility functions such as the laser safety interlock and 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.

All units are shipped from Thorlabs with a shorting device that is already installed in the interlock connector thus allowing the instrument to be operated normally right out of the box. To make use of the interlock feature, a 2.5 mm plug can be wired to the remote interlock switch and plugged into the back-panel interlock jack in place of the shorting plug. The electrical specifications for that function can be found in the manual (PDF link).

Front Panel

Front Panel of the TLX1 and TLX2
Click to Enlarge

TLX1 Front Panel
Callout Description
1 Touchscreen Display and Control
2 Value Adjustment Knob
3 Key Switch and Indicator Light for Internal Laser
4a Laser Output,
Accepts PM Fiber with FC/PC Connector
5a VOA Input (External Laser Input),
Accepts PM Fiber with FC/PC Connector
6a VOA Output,
Accepts PM Fiber with FC/PC Connector
7 On/Standby Button
  • Uses PM Panda Fiber for Internal Connection

Back Panel

Back Panel of the TLX1 and TLX2
Click to Enlarge

TLX1 Back Panel
Callout Description
1a I/O Control Port
Outputs from Two Integrated Power Monitors
2 Laser Interlock Jack
3a RS-232 Control Port
4 USB Port (Type B)
5 AC Power Cord Connector
6 Fuse Tray
7 AC Power Switch
  • See the Pin Diagrams tab for pin assignments.

I/O DB15 Connector (Female)

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

Pin Description Pin Description
1 Reserved for Future Use 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 Reserved for Future Use
6 Analog Ground 14 Monitor 2 Gain Indicator
7 Analog Ground 15 Monitor 3 Gain Indicator
8 Analog Ground - -

RS-232 Connector (Male)

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

Pin Description
1 Not Connected
2 RS-232 Input
3 RS-232 Output
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 for firmware upgrades and will support remote operation in the future.

Each Tunable Laser Source includes:

  • Laser Source Main Unit
  • Power Cord According to Local Supply (Determined by Ordering Location)
  • PM Loop-Back Fiber Optic Cable
  • Interlock Keys for Front Panel
  • 2.5 mm Interlock Pin (Pre-installed in Back Panel)
  • 1.25 A, 250 VAC Fuse
  • USB Type A to Type B Cable, 6' Long

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Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Universal Price Available / Ships
TLX1 Support Documentation
TLX1Benchtop Tunable Laser Source, C-Band
TLX2 Support Documentation
TLX2Benchtop Tunable Laser Source, L-Band
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