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Fiber-Coupled, Benchtop Tunable Laser Sources
Tunable Laser Source,
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
We Design, Develop, and Manufacture
|Power and Environmental Specifications|
|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|
|Tunable Wavelength Range||1528 - 1566 nm||1570 - 1609 nm|
|Tunable Frequency Range||191.50 - 196.25 THz||186.35 - 190.95 THz|
|Optical Output Power||dBm||12.5||13.5||14.5|
|Tuning Speed (Between Wavelengths)||s||-||10||-|
|Side Mode Suppression Ratio||dB||40||55||-|
|Optical Signal Noise Ratio||dB||40||60||-|
|Relative Intensity Noise||dB/Hz||-||-||-145|
|Polarization Extinction Ratio||dB||18||-||-|
|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|
|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|
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.
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.
The basic layout can be seen in the screenshots to the right.
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.
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.
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).
|1||Touchscreen Display and Control|
|2||Value Adjustment Knob|
|3||Key Switch and Indicator Light for Internal Laser|
Accepts PM Fiber with FC/PC Connector
|5a||VOA Input (External Laser Input),
Accepts PM Fiber with FC/PC Connector
Accepts PM Fiber with FC/PC Connector
|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|
|7||AC Power Switch|
The I/O connector provides analog outputs from the two power monitors.
|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|
The RS-232 connector is provided for firmware upgrades and will support remote operation in the future.
The USB connector is provided for firmware upgrades and will support remote operation in the future.
Each Tunable Laser Source includes:
Control the Laser Sources Remotely via Serial Commands
Serial commands sent to the TLX1 or TLX2 can control the functionality of internal laser module and variable optical attenuator (VOA), as well as set general system parameters. The commands can be sent from a computer running any operating system to the RS-232 port on the back panel of the TLX series laser. 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 TLX series laser. The touchscreen interface remains active while the laser is controlled remotely. Descriptions of how to connect a controlling computer to the TLX series laser, 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 Laser Sources
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 laser source remotely. It opens a connection to the laser source and sends commands in response to buttons clicked by users. Commands sent to the TLX series laser, 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
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.
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:
|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.|
|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.|
|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).|
|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.|
|3R||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 are limited to 5 mW of output power in this class.|
|3B||Class 3B lasers are hazardous to the eye if exposed directly. However, diffuse reflections are not harmful. Safe handling of devices in this class includes wearing protective eyewear where direct viewing of the laser beam may occur. In addition, laser safety signs lightboxes should be used with lasers that require a safety interlock so that the laser cannot be used without the safety light turning on. Class-3B lasers must be equipped with a key switch and a safety interlock.|
|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.|
|All class 2 lasers (and higher) must display, in addition to the corresponding sign above, this triangular warning sign|
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Customization options include internal laser sources, operating wavelength ranges, optical fiber types, and amplifier types.
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.
Customization options include single mode and multimode optical fiber options, where applicable, and detectors optimized for time or frequency domain operation.
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.
Customization options for the pulsed lasers include emission wavelength, optical output powers, and sub-nanosecond pulse widths.
|Transmitter Instruments and Tunable Lasers|
|Item #||Speed||Internal Laser||Internal Modulator
|Automatic Bias Controller|
|Tunable Telecom-Grade Laser Sources|
|High-Speed Modulator Drivers|
|High-Speed Optical Transmitters|
|MX10B||12.5 Gb/sa||C-Band, Tunable||Intensity||Digital|
|MX10B-LB||12.5 Gb/sa||L-Band, Tunable|
|MX10B-1310||12.5 Gb/sa||1310 nm, Fixed|
|MX10C||12.5 Gb/sa||C-Band, Tunable||Phase||Digital||-|
|MX10C-LB||12.5 Gb/sa||L-Band, Tunable|
|MX10C-1310||12.5 Gb/sa||1310 nm, Fixed|
|MX35E||35 GHzb||C-Band, Tunable||Intensity||Linear|
|MX35E-LB||35 GHzb||L-Band, Tunable|
|MX35E-1310||35 GHzb||1310 nm, Fixed|
|MX35D||35 GHzb||C-Band, Tunable||Intensity||Linear with
|MX35D-LB||35 GHzb||L-Band, Tunable|
|MX35D-1310||35 GHzb||1310 nm, Fixed|
|MX40B||40 Gb/sa||C-Band, Tunable||Intensity||Digital|
|MX40B-LB||40 Gb/sa||L-Band, Tunable|
|MX40B-1310||40 Gb/sa||1310 nm, Fixed|
|MX40C||40 Gb/sa||C-Band, Tunable||Phase||Digital||-|
|MX40C-LB||40 Gb/sa||L-Band, Tunable|
|MX40C-1310||40 Gb/sa||1310 nm, Fixed|
|MX65E||65 GHzb||C-Band, Tunable||Intensity||Linear|
|MX65E-LB||65 GHzb||L-Band, Tunable|
|MX65E-1310||65 GHzb||1310 nm, Fixed|
|E-O Converters for VNA Applications|
|MX40G||40 GHzb||C-Band, Tunable||Intensity||-|
|MX40G-LB||40 GHzb||L-Band, Tunable|
|MX40G-850||40 GHzb||850 nm, Fixed|
|MX40G-1310||40 GHzb||1310 nm, Fixed|
|MX70G||70 GHzb||C-Band, Tunable||Intensity||-|
|MX70G-LB||70 GHzb||L-Band, Tunable|
|MX70G-1310||70 GHzb||1310 nm, Fixed|
The capabilities of Thorlabs' extensive range of transmitter instruments are summarized in the text and table below. All members of this product series share a similar interface, as well as a common remote control command set.
Automatic Bias Controller
Thorlabs' fully-featured automatic bias controller provides complete and precise control of DC bias and optical output power for any fiber-coupled LiNbO3 EO intensity modulator, regardless of signal speed. Automatic bias controllers are ideal for use within a customized setup that uses an external laser, intensity modulator, signal source, and RF amplifier.
Tunable Telecom-Grade Laser Sources
Emitting in the C-band or the L-band, these lasers have narrow typical linewidths of 10 kHz. A frequency dither option aids in stabilizing the laser wavelength, and the integrated variable optical attenuator (VOA) provides optical output power control. These lasers are tunable in 50 GHz steps across the ITU frequency grid, and feature a 1 MHz step size fine-tune capability, as well.
High-Speed Modulator Drivers
With an operational wavelength range of 1250 nm to 1610 nm, each modulator driver provides control for an external fiber-coupled LiNbO3 EO modulator. Each modulator driver includes an RF amplifier with amplitude and eye-crossing controls and accepts an external drive signal source. Models with integrated automatic bias controllers are offered for use with intensity EO modulators.
High-Speed Optical Transmitters
Designed to provide fully-integrated solutions for high-speed light modulation, these systems are built around a LiNbO3 intensity or phase modulator. The MX10B, MX40B, MX10C, and MX40C series of systems include a digital (limiting) RF amplifier, which offers fixed gain and an adjustable output voltage swing. The MX35 and MX65E series include a high-bandwidth linear (analog) RF amplifier, making it well suited for pulse amplitude modulation and related applications.
E-O Converters for VNA Applications
With our MX40G and MX70G series of E-O converters, any E-E vector network analyzer can be used to perform optical testing up to 40 GHz or 70 GHz respectively. The E-O converter is a fully-integrated solution that includes a laser, a modulator, and bias control.