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Fast, narrow-linewidth tunable laser is a first

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Pilot Photonics announces first commercial tunable laser to offer nanosecond switching and narrow linewidth

Dublin-based Pilot Photonics has announced the availability of a new widely tunable laser module. It is claimed to be the only commercially available tunable laser that offers the elusive combination of nanosecond switching and narrow linewidth solving a long running challenge in the industry.

Widely tunable semiconductor lasers can typically offer narrow linewidth, or fast tuning, but not both. In optical fiber sensing systems, electronically tunable lasers have traditionally been used for their fast tunability over a wide tuning range which is achieved using a current injection tuning mechanism.

However, these lasers exhibit linewidths that are unsuitable for demanding phase sensitive applications such as coherent optical communication and frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) LiDAR. Changing to a thermal tuning mechanism reduces the linewidth, but at the expense of switching speed which renders the laser unsuitable for some of these applications.

Pilot Photonics' laser is based on a monolithic InP chip fabricated on an active-passive platform. Electro-optic tuning with reverse-voltage bias of tuning sections allows mA-order dark currents and facilitates nanosecond switching speeds with low power dissipation. It offers more than 30nm of wavelength tuning range in either the C-band or the O-band, and linewidth of 150kHz. Currently available in 14-pin butterfly package or integrated into an OEM or laboratory instrument form-factor module, the company is also developing a nano-iTLA module for high volume applications.

"We have been working with our partner SMART Photonics on a couple of innovative tunable laser designs made possible with their PIC platform" said Frank Smyth, founder and CTO at Pilot Photonics. "These devices target specific challenges that our customers are facing, and we are delighted to help solve them".

Pilot Photonics will be present at SPIE Photonics West 2023, January 31st – February 2nd 2023, San Francisco, USA where it will demonstrate the tunable laser and present a paper entitled 'Widely tunable C-band laser and module with nanosecond tuning and narrow linewidth' detailing its characterisation.

Pilot Photonics produces innovative light sources and III-V photonic integrated circuits and applies them to challenging problems in the communications, automotive, and space industries.

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