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2x2 Coupler Tutorial

Definition of 2x2 Fused Fiber Optic Coupler Specifications

This tab provides a brief explanation of how we determine several key specifications for our 2x2 couplers. The ports of the coupler are defined as shown in the coupler schematic below. In the sections below, the light is input into port 1. Port 3 and port 4 would then be considered the signal and tap outputs, respectively.

2x2 CouplerPicture


Excess Loss

Excess loss in dB is determined by the ratio of the total input power to the total output power:

Excess Loss

Pport1 is the input power at port 1 and Pport3+Pport4 is the total output power from ports 3 and 4, assuming no input power at port 2. All powers are expressed in mW.


Polarization Dependent Loss (PDL)

The polarization dependent loss is defined as the ratio of the maximum and minimum transmissions due to polarization states in couplers. This specification pertains only to couplers not designed for maintaining polarization. PDL is always specified in decibels (dB), and can be calculated with the following equation:

Polarization Dependent Loss Equation

where Pmax is the maximum power able to be transmitted through the coupler when scanning across all possible polarization states. Pmin is the minimum transmission across those same states.


Optical Return Loss (ORL) / Directivity

The directivity refers to the fraction of input light that exits the coupler through an input port (i.e., light exiting at port 2) instead of the intended output port. It can be calculated in units of dB using the following equation:

Directivity or Return Loss

where Pport1 and Pport2 are the optical powers (in mW) in port 1 and port 2, respectively. This output is the result of back reflection at the junction of the legs of the coupler and represents a loss in the total light output at ports 3 and 4. For a 50:50 coupler, the directivity is equal to the optical return loss (ORL).


Insertion Loss

The insertion loss is defined as the ratio of the input power to the output power at one of the output legs of the coupler (signal or tap). Insertion loss is always specified in decibels (dB). It is generally defined using the equation below:

Insertion Loss

where Pin and Pout are the input and output powers (in mW). For our 2x2 couplers, the insertion loss specification is provided for both signal and tap outputs; our specifications always list insertion loss for the signal output first. To define the insertion loss for a specific output (port 3 or port 4), the equation is rewritten as:

Insertion Loss

Insertion Loss

A similar equation can be used to define the insertion loss at port 2 for input at port 1. However, as seen above, this is already defined as the directivity of the coupler.

Insertion loss inherently includes both coupling (e.g., light transferred to the other output leg) and excess loss (e.g., light lost from the coupler) effects. The maximum allowed insertion loss for each output, signal and tap, are both specified. Because the insertion loss in each output is correlated to light coupled to the other output, no coupler will ever have the maximum insertion loss in both outputs simultaneously.

Calculating Insertion Loss using Power Expressed in dBm
Insertion loss can also be easily calculated with the power expressed in units of dBm. The equation below shows the relationship between power expressed in mW and dBm:


Then, the insertion loss in dB can be calculated as follows:

Insertion Loss


Click to Enlarge

A graphical representation of the coupling ratio calculation.

Coupling Ratio

Insertion loss (in dB) is the ratio of the input power to the output power from each leg of the coupler as a function of wavelength. It captures both the coupling ratio and the excess loss. The coupling ratio is calculated from the measured insertion loss. Coupling ratio (in %) is the ratio of the optical power from each output port (A and B) to the sum of the total power of both output ports as a function of wavelength. It is not impacted by spectral features such as the water absorption region because both output legs are affected equally.


Click to Enlarge

A graphical representation of the Uniformity calculation.


The uniformity is also calculated from the measured insertion loss. Uniformity is the variation (in dB) of the insertion loss over the bandwidth. It is a measure of how evenly the insertion loss is distributed over the spectral range. The uniformity of Path A is the difference between the value of highest insertion loss and the solid red insertion loss curve (in the Insertion Plot above). The uniformity of Path B is the difference between the solid blue insertion loss curve and the value of lowest insertion loss.

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