We demonstrate a variable optical attenuator (VOA) based on liquid crystal polarization gratings (LCPGs), which eliminates the need for complex polarization management found in competing LC technologies. We then configure the VOA as a multi-channel wavelength blocker resulting in a simple, compact architecture with high performance and low cost. Together with a dual fiber collimator, relay lenses, a diffraction grating, a quarter wave plate, and a mirror we achieve optical attenuation of ~50 dB with minimal polarization dependent loss (≤0.3 dB) and insertion loss (≤2.5 dB). The device also manifests competitive wavelength flatness (≤0.35 dB variation), response times (~40 ms), and temperature dependent loss (≥47 dB maximum attenuation up to 85°C). We describe the principle of operation, explain the fabrication process and optimization challenges, and finally present the system design and experimental results for a four-channel, 100 GHz wavelength blocker in the C-band.
© 2010 IEEE
Elena Nicolescu, Chongchang Mao, Amir Fardad, and Michael Escuti, "Polarization-Insensitive Variable Optical Attenuator and Wavelength Blocker Using Liquid Crystal Polarization Gratings," J. Lightwave Technol. 28, 3121-3127 (2010)