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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 16, Iss. 2 — Jan. 21, 2008
  • pp: 567–572
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A photonic analog-to-digital conversion scheme using Mach-Zehnder modulators with identical half-wave voltages

Hao Chi and Jianping Yao  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 16, Issue 2, pp. 567-572 (2008)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.16.000567


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Abstract

A novel photonic analog-to-digital conversion scheme implemented using an array of Mach-Zehnder modulators (MZMs) with identical half-wave voltages is proposed and demonstrated. It is different from the scheme proposed by Taylor where the MZMs should have geometrically scaled half-wave voltages; the proposed scheme here uses MZMs with identical half-wave voltages, which eliminates the need for the MZMs to have very low half-wave voltages. By properly biasing the MZMs, the transfer functions of the MZMs are laterally shifted, which leads to the generation of a linear binary code to represent the analog input signal. The use of the MZMs with identical half-wave voltages simplifies greatly the design and implementation, which provides a high potential for integration. A proof-of-concept experiment for analog-to-digital conversion with a quantization level of 16 is demonstrated.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

High speed analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) are vital for many modern applications, such as broadband wireless communications, high-speed medical imaging, high-resolution radar, wideband software-defined radio, advanced instrumentation, and modern electronic warfare. Although there is a remarkable progress in analog-to-digital conversion technologies in the last two decades, the advancement in electronic ADCs lags largely behind the digital electronics. Since 1970s, the use of optical technologies in ADCs has attracted great interest thanks to the inherent broad bandwidth offered by optics. One major breakthrough in photonic ADCs is the use of mode-locked lasers. A state-of-the-art mode-locked laser can produce high-frequency (over 10 GHz) optical sampling pulses with timing jitter significantly below that of electronic circuitry [1

1. R. H. Walden, “Analog-to-Digital converter survey and analysis,” IEEE J. Sel. Areas Commun. 17, 539 (1999). [CrossRef]

, 2

2. G. C. Valley, “Photonic analog-to-digital converters,” Opt. Express 15, 1955 (2007), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-15-5-1955. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. In addition, optical sampling would make the back-coupling between the optical sampling pulses and the electrical signal being sampled negligible.

By now, different approaches for photonic ADCs have been proposed and demonstrated [3–6

3. F. Coppinger, A. S. Bhushan, and B. Jalali, “Photonic time stretch and its application to analog-to-digital conversion,” IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory Tech. 47, 1309 (1999). [CrossRef]

]. Taylor first proposed the use of an array of Mach-Zehnder modulators (MZMs) for analog-to-digital conversion [6

6. H. F. Taylor, “An optical analog-to-digital converter-design and analysis,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 15, 210 (1979). [CrossRef]

]. In his scheme, the input analog signal is symmetrically folded by the MZMs with each MZM having an electrode length that is twice that of its nearest more significant bit (MSB), leading to a doubled folding frequency. The folding property in the transfer function imposes a requirement that the half-wave voltage of the MZM at the least significant bit (LSB) should be very low, which is difficult to realize using current waveguide technology. To avoid using MZMs with very low half-wave voltages, Jalali et al. proposed to use cascaded MZMs [7

7. B. Jalali and Y. M. Xie, “Optical folding-flash analog-to-digital converter with analog encoding,” Opt. Lett. 20, 1901(1995). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The use of cascaded phase modulators [8

8. M. Currie, “Optical quantization of microwave signals via distributed phase modulation,” J. Lightwave Technol. 23, 827 (2005). [CrossRef]

] was also proposed. Recently, Stigwall et al. proposed a scheme to use a free-space interferometric structure in which a phase modulator is incorporated in one arm of the interferometer [9

9. J. Stigwall and S. Galt, “Interferometric analog-to-digital conversion scheme,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 468 (2005). [CrossRef]

, 10

10. J. Stigwall and S. Galt, “Demonstration and analysis of a 40-Gigasample/s interferometric analog-to-digital converter,” J. Lightwave Technol. 24, 1247 (2006). [CrossRef]

]. By placing the photodetectors (PDs) at the specific locations of the diffraction pattern generated at the output of the interferometer, linear binary code digital data are generated. The same concept was recently demonstrated by Li et al., but the interferometric structure was realized based on a fiber-optic platform, which makes the system more compact [11

11. W. Li, H. Zhang, Q. Wu, Z. Zhang, and M. Yao, “All-optical analog-to-digital conversion based on polarization-differential interference and phase modulation,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 19, 625 (2007). [CrossRef]

].

Fig. 1. A 4-channel ADC using four MZMs with identical half-wave voltages.

In this paper, we propose a novel scheme to implement a photonic ADC using an array of MZMs with identical half-wave voltages. By properly biasing the MZMs, the required shifts in transfer functions of MZMs can be realized, which is used to generate the linear binary code representation of the analog input signal. The use of the MZMs with identical half-wave voltages simplifies greatly the design and implementation, which provides a high potential for integration. The operation principle is discussed with an emphasis on the encoding concept. A proof-of-concept experiment is then implemented. Analog-to-digital conversion with a quantization level of 16 is demonstrated.

2. Operation principle

A 4-channel ADC using four MZMs with identical half-wave voltages is shown in Fig. 1. The system consists of a mode-locked laser source, four MZMs, four PDs, and four electronic comparators. An optical pulse train from the mode-locked laser is sent to the four MZMs, to sample the RF signal to be digitized, which is applied to the MZMs via the RF ports. The output signals from the MZMs are then sent to the PDs to perform optical to electrical (O/E) conversions. An electronic comparator is connected to the output of each PD. All the MZMs employed have identical electrode lengths, and therefore identical half-wave voltages (Vπ). To quantize the sampled RF signal, the MZMs should be properly biased. In the proposed scheme, the output optical intensity from a specific MZM is determined by the bias voltage applied to the specific MZM and the voltage of the RF signal. Mathematically, the output optical intensity is given by

Io=12Ii[1+cos(φs+φb)],
(1)

where Ii is the input optical intensity, φs=πVs(t)Vπ is the phase shift induced by the applied RF signal Vs(t), φb=πVb/Vπ is the phase shift induced by the bias voltage Vb. φb=πVb/Vπ is the phase shift induced by the bias voltage Vb.

Fig. 2. The operation of the proposed 4-channel photonic ADC. (a) The transfer functions of the four MZMs; (b) The linear binary code at the outputs of th comparators; (c) Quantized value (solid) v.s. the input phase modulation (dotted).

Fig. 3. Experimental setup. LD: continuous-wave laser diode, PC: polarization controller, PD: photodetector.

3. Experiment results and discussions

A proof-of-concept experiment with the setup shown in Fig. 3 is demonstrated. The lightwave generated by a continuous-wave laser diode (Yokogawa AQ2201) operating at 1550 nm is sent to a 20-GHz JDS-Uniphase intensity modulator through a polarization controller (PC). The PC is carefully adjusted to minimize the polarization-dependent loss in the modulator. A 45-GHz PD (New Focus 1104) is used to implement the O/E conversion. To proof the concept, the modulator is driven with a 4-GHz sinusoidal signal generated by a signal generator (Agilent E8254A). A digital sampling oscilloscope (Agilent 86100C) is used to capture the temporal waveforms, which is triggered by the signal generator. The half-wave voltage Vπ of the modulator is 9.2 V.

Fig. 4. Experimental results. (a) The measured 8 waveforms corresponding to 8 bias phase shifts; (b) The digitized signal (solid) and the fitted sinusoidal signal (dashed); (c) Errors between the quantized signal and the fitted signal (Q is the size of the LSB).

In the experiment, we emulate the output characteristics of an 8-channel system by tuning the bias voltage of the modulator at a constant step Vπ/8=1.2 V. Since the channel number n is 8, the bit resolution NR is 4. For each bias voltage, we measure and record the waveform by the oscilloscope. The recorded 8 traces (without averaging) are shown in Fig. 4(a). Based on the recorded waveforms, we use a program to sample the waveforms to get discrete intensity data at a fixed time interval. Then, a digitized signal is obtained by comparing the sampled data with the threshold value. The threshold value is set as half of the maximum output. The quantized value obtained according to the final binary code is shown in Fig. 4(b). As a comparison, the fitted sinusoidal signal is also shown in Fig. 4(b). Note that, the maximum quantized value is 13, which is equivalent to a phase shift of 1.625~1.75 π. The maximum phase shift is decided by the input RF signal power. Fig. 4(c) shows the errors between the quantized signal and the fitted signal. Due to the noise in the detected waveforms, errors in some sampling points are larger than the size of the LSB.

Based on the errors between the quantized value and the fitted signal, the digital signal-to-noise ratio (dSNR) is estimated to be around 219 (23.4 dB), which corresponds to an effective number of bits (ENOB) of 3.6, according to the following formula [1

1. R. H. Walden, “Analog-to-Digital converter survey and analysis,” IEEE J. Sel. Areas Commun. 17, 539 (1999). [CrossRef]

]

ENOB=dSNR1.766.02.
(2)

Since the bit resolution NR of the system is 4, the ENOB deviation from the ideal case is 0.4 dB. This ENOB degradation is owing to the noise sources in the system, which include the relative intensity noise (RIN) of the laser source, the shot noise and the thermal noise of the PD, and the instrument noise.

Fig. 5. The SNR of the digitized signal and the ENOB vs. the SNR of the PD current.

To clarify the relationship between the system noise and the ENOB degradation, we implement computer simulation using the Monte-Carlo method based on the model given in [11

11. W. Li, H. Zhang, Q. Wu, Z. Zhang, and M. Yao, “All-optical analog-to-digital conversion based on polarization-differential interference and phase modulation,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 19, 625 (2007). [CrossRef]

]. In the simulation, the overall noise in the system is modeled by a Gaussian distributed random variable, which has the probability density function,

φσ(x)=1σ2πexp(x22σ2),
(3)

In an ideal ADC, the limitation on the ADC performance is mainly owing to the steepness of the digitized signals which would lead to errors in the output waveforms. In this case, the ENOB of the system is just the bit resolution NR. The noise-induced ENOB degradation has been found and investigated in our experiment. In practical realization of the proposed ADC, the effects of aperture jitter and clock jitter have to be taken into account in the performance evaluation, since the random sampling time variations due to the aperture and clock jitter would also lead to errors in the output waveform. For more details, readers may refer to [12

12. M. Löhning and G. Fettweis, “The effects of aperture jitter and clock jitter in wideband ADCs,” Comput. Stand. Interfac. 29, 11 (2007). [CrossRef]

]. The lithium niobate phase modulators in the MZMs have an almost ideal linear response from input electrical voltage to optical phase shift; spurious free dynamic range (SFDR) over 90 dB has been measured [10

10. J. Stigwall and S. Galt, “Demonstration and analysis of a 40-Gigasample/s interferometric analog-to-digital converter,” J. Lightwave Technol. 24, 1247 (2006). [CrossRef]

]. The major limitation on the system dynamic range is the allowed maximum 2π phase swing due to the 2π periodicity of the transfer function of the MZMs, as can be seen in Fig. 2(a), which indicates that the phase shift variation induced by the input voltage signal should be kept within 2π.

We should note that the proposed scheme has some similarity in principle with the scheme proposed by Stigwall et al. [9

9. J. Stigwall and S. Galt, “Interferometric analog-to-digital conversion scheme,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 468 (2005). [CrossRef]

, 10

10. J. Stigwall and S. Galt, “Demonstration and analysis of a 40-Gigasample/s interferometric analog-to-digital converter,” J. Lightwave Technol. 24, 1247 (2006). [CrossRef]

]. In [9

9. J. Stigwall and S. Galt, “Interferometric analog-to-digital conversion scheme,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 468 (2005). [CrossRef]

, 10

10. J. Stigwall and S. Galt, “Demonstration and analysis of a 40-Gigasample/s interferometric analog-to-digital converter,” J. Lightwave Technol. 24, 1247 (2006). [CrossRef]

], the ADC has a structure using a free-space Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI), with a phase modulator incorporated in one arm of the MZI. An array of probe detectors is used to perform O/E conversions. The probe detectors are placed at specific positions along the diffraction pattern, which corresponds to the different bias phase shifts in our proposed system. In both cases, the transfer functions are shifted instead of folded, which leads to the generation of a linear binary code with a code length of 2n instead of a Gray code with a code length of 2n. This is the major drawback of the proposed scheme. The major advantage of our scheme is that the MZMs have identical half-wave voltages, which eliminates the requirement for the geometrical scaling of the half-wave voltages. Therefore, our scheme provides a viable solution for photonic ADC, especially for low bit resolution applications. In addition, no free-space optics is involved in the scheme, which makes the system more compact and stable with high potential for integration.

As a comparison to the approaches based on cascaded phase or intensity modulators [7

7. B. Jalali and Y. M. Xie, “Optical folding-flash analog-to-digital converter with analog encoding,” Opt. Lett. 20, 1901(1995). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 8

8. M. Currie, “Optical quantization of microwave signals via distributed phase modulation,” J. Lightwave Technol. 23, 827 (2005). [CrossRef]

], our approach features a simpler design with a parallel structure, which avoids the problems such as non-uniform loss among different channels. In addition, the parallel design in our scheme avoids the requirement for a precise synchronization between the electrical and the optical signals in the cascaded modulators.

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, a novel scheme for photonic ADC using an array of MZMs with identical half-wave voltages was proposed and experimentally demonstrated. The quantization and encoding in the proposed system was realized by properly biasing the MZMs to have shifted transfer functions such that a linear binary code was generated at the output of the system. Compared to Taylor’s scheme where the MZMs should have geometrically scaled half-wave voltages realized by increasing the electrode length, the proposed scheme uses MZMs with identical half-wave voltages which eliminate the need for MZMs with very low half-wave voltages thereby simplifying greatly the design and implementation. In addition, the proposed ADC with parallel MZM structure provides a high potential for integration. A proof-of-concept experiment to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed scheme was implemented in which an analog-to-digital conversion with a quantization level of 16 was realized.

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. H. Chi was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 60407011) and in part by the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation (No. Y104073).

References and links

1.

R. H. Walden, “Analog-to-Digital converter survey and analysis,” IEEE J. Sel. Areas Commun. 17, 539 (1999). [CrossRef]

2.

G. C. Valley, “Photonic analog-to-digital converters,” Opt. Express 15, 1955 (2007), http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-15-5-1955. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

3.

F. Coppinger, A. S. Bhushan, and B. Jalali, “Photonic time stretch and its application to analog-to-digital conversion,” IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory Tech. 47, 1309 (1999). [CrossRef]

4.

S. Oda and A. Maruta, “A novel quantization scheme by slicing supercontinuum spectrum for all-optical analog-to-digital conversion,” IEEE Photonic Technol. Lett. 17, 465 (2005).

5.

C. Xu and X. Liu, “Photonic analog-to-digital converter using soliton self-frequency shift and interleaving spectral filters,” Opt. Lett. 28, 986 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

6.

H. F. Taylor, “An optical analog-to-digital converter-design and analysis,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 15, 210 (1979). [CrossRef]

7.

B. Jalali and Y. M. Xie, “Optical folding-flash analog-to-digital converter with analog encoding,” Opt. Lett. 20, 1901(1995). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

8.

M. Currie, “Optical quantization of microwave signals via distributed phase modulation,” J. Lightwave Technol. 23, 827 (2005). [CrossRef]

9.

J. Stigwall and S. Galt, “Interferometric analog-to-digital conversion scheme,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 468 (2005). [CrossRef]

10.

J. Stigwall and S. Galt, “Demonstration and analysis of a 40-Gigasample/s interferometric analog-to-digital converter,” J. Lightwave Technol. 24, 1247 (2006). [CrossRef]

11.

W. Li, H. Zhang, Q. Wu, Z. Zhang, and M. Yao, “All-optical analog-to-digital conversion based on polarization-differential interference and phase modulation,” IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 19, 625 (2007). [CrossRef]

12.

M. Löhning and G. Fettweis, “The effects of aperture jitter and clock jitter in wideband ADCs,” Comput. Stand. Interfac. 29, 11 (2007). [CrossRef]

OCIS Codes
(060.2360) Fiber optics and optical communications : Fiber optics links and subsystems
(230.0250) Optical devices : Optoelectronics

ToC Category:
Optical Devices

History
Original Manuscript: November 20, 2007
Revised Manuscript: December 29, 2007
Manuscript Accepted: January 4, 2008
Published: January 7, 2008

Citation
Hao Chi and Jianping Yao, "A photonic analog-to-digital conversion scheme using Mach-Zehnder modulators with identical half-wave voltages," Opt. Express 16, 567-572 (2008)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-16-2-567


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References

  1. R. H. Walden, "Analog-to-Digital converter survey and analysis," IEEE J. Sel. Areas Commun. 17, 539 (1999). [CrossRef]
  2. G. C. Valley, "Photonic analog-to-digital converters," Opt. Express 15,1955 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. F. Coppinger, A. S. Bhushan, and B. Jalali, "Photonic time stretch and its application to analog-to-digital conversion," IEEE Trans. Microwave Theory Tech. 47, 1309 (1999). [CrossRef]
  4. S. Oda and A. Maruta, "A novel quantization scheme by slicing supercontinuum spectrum for all-optical analog-to-digital conversion," IEEE Photonic Technol. Lett. 17, 465 (2005).
  5. C. Xu and X. Liu, "Photonic analog-to-digital converter using soliton self-frequency shift and interleaving spectral filters," Opt. Lett. 28, 986 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. H. F. Taylor, "An optical analog-to-digital converter-design and analysis," IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 15, 210 (1979). [CrossRef]
  7. B. Jalali and Y. M. Xie, "Optical folding-flash analog-to-digital converter with analog encoding," Opt. Lett. 20,1901(1995). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. M. Currie, "Optical quantization of microwave signals via distributed phase modulation," J. Lightwave Technol. 23, 827 (2005). [CrossRef]
  9. J. Stigwall and S. Galt, "Interferometric analog-to-digital conversion scheme," IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 468 (2005). [CrossRef]
  10. J. Stigwall and S. Galt, "Demonstration and analysis of a 40-Gigasample/s interferometric analog-to-digital converter," J. Lightwave Technol. 24, 1247 (2006). [CrossRef]
  11. W. Li, H. Zhang, Q. Wu, Z. Zhang, and M. Yao, "All-optical analog-to-digital conversion based on polarization-differential interference and phase modulation," IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 19, 625 (2007). [CrossRef]
  12. M. Löhning and G. Fettweis, "The effects of aperture jitter and clock jitter in wideband ADCs," Comput. Stand. Interfac. 29, 11 (2007). [CrossRef]

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