Student Seminar

Fiber-optic Networks and the Erbium-doped Fiber Amplifier

Michael Dobinson, SFU Physics
Location: AQ3153

Friday, 24 November 2023 01:30PM PST


Telecommunications networks connect internet users across the globe, with total online traffic estimated to exceed 1000 Tb/s in 2023. This staggering communication rate is supported primarily by extensive fiber-optic networks and fiber-optic technologies which have rapidly adapted to respond to the ever-increasing global desire for data. Early fiber-optic communication over long distances was limited by losses in the optical fiber and signal amplification was found to be essential. Fortunately, a means of high-speed optical amplification was found and first demonstrated in 1986 – the erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA). A revolution in telecommunications began just two years later when the first transatlantic fiber-optic cable was laid, carrying a 280 Mb/s link across the Atlantic Ocean. EDFA technologies have been continuously improved, increasing in single-channel rates and adapting to a variety of multiplexing techniques which enable many simultaneous communication channels. These advances have resulted in EDFA technologies remaining an integral part of modern fiber networks, with the communication rate of recently deployed fiber-optic networks exceeding 300 Tb/s. In this talk I will examine how EDFAs operate, consider their critical role in long-distance fiber-optic communication, and discuss technologies which employ EDFAs to meet the growing demands for global telecommunications networks.