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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: Andrew M. Weiner
  • Vol. 22, Iss. 4 — Feb. 24, 2014
  • pp: 4152–4160
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Supercontinuum generation in highly nonlinear fibers using amplified noise-like optical pulses

Shih-Shian Lin, Sheng-Kwang Hwang, and Jia-Ming Liu  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 22, Issue 4, pp. 4152-4160 (2014)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.22.004152


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Abstract

Supercontinuum generation in a highly nonlinear fiber pumped by noise-like pulses from an erbium-doped fiber ring laser is investigated. To generate ultrabroad spectra, a fiber amplifier is used to boost the power launched into the highly nonlinear fiber. After amplification, not only the average power of the noise-like pulses is enhanced but the spectrum of the pulses is also broadened due to nonlinear effects in the fiber amplifier. This leads to a reduction of the peak duration in their autocorrelation trace, suggesting a similar extent of pulse compression; by contrast, the pedestal duration increases only slightly, suggesting that the noise-like characteristic is maintained. By controlling the pump power of the fiber amplifier, the compression ratio of the noise-like pulse duration can be adjusted. Due to the pulse compression, supercontinuum generation with a broader spectrum is therefore feasible at a given average power level of the noise-like pulses launched into the highly nonlinear fiber. As a result, supercontinuum generation with an optical spectrum spanning from 1208 to 2111 nm is achieved using a 1-m nonlinear fiber pumped by amplified noise-like pulses of 15.5 MHz repetition rate at an average power of 202 mW.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

Supercontinuum generation in nonlinear fibers using ultrashort pulse pumping has attracted continuous research interest [1

1. J. M. Dudley, G. Genty, and S. Coen, “Supercontinuum generation in photonic crystal fiber,” Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 1135–1184 (2006). [CrossRef]

] because of its promising and revolutionary applications in numerous areas, such as optical frequency metrology, spectroscopy, optical coherence tomography, and optical communications. Well-defined pump pulses of high pulse energies that have durations ranging from tens to hundreds of femtoseconds are used. Depending on the pump pulse characteristics, such as pulse duration and pulse wavelength relative to the fiber zero-dispersion point, the process of supercontinuum generation involves various nonlinear phenomena. They include self-phase modulation, stimulated Raman scattering, four-wave mixing, soliton fission, Raman self-frequency shift, and dispersive wave generation. The resulting supercontinua usually consist of broad spectra over hundreds or even thousands of nanometers with fine structures and with high noise sensitivity [2

2. X. Gu, L. Xu, M. Kimmel, E. Zeek, P. O’Shea, A. P. Shreenath, and R. Trebino, “Frequency-resolved optical gating and single-shot spectral measurements reveal fine structure in microstructure-fiber continuum,” Opt. Lett. 27, 1174–1176 (2002). [CrossRef]

5

5. J. W. Nicholson, R. Bise, J. Alonzo, T. Stockert, D. J. Trevor, F. Dimarcello, E. Monberg, J. M. Fini, P. S. Westbrook, K. Feder, and L. Gruner-Nielsen, “Visible continuum generation using a femtosecond Erbium-doped fiber laser and a silica nonlinear fiber,” Opt. Lett. 33, 28–30 (2008). [CrossRef]

].

Lately, noise-like pulses generated from fiber ring lasers have been proposed for the generation of structureless, broad spectra covering from tens to hundreds of nanometers [6

6. M. Horowitz, Y. Barad, and Y. Silberberg, “Noise-like pulses with a broadband spectrum generated from an erbium-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 799–801 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

14

14. A. F. J. Runge, C. Aguergaray, N. G. R. Broderick, and M. Erkintalo, “Coherence and shot-to-shot spectral fluctuations in noise-like ultrafast fiber lasers,” Opt. Lett. 38, 4327–4330 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Such pulses are composed of sub-nanosecond wavepackets with a fine inner structure of sub-picosecond pulses that have stochastically changing durations and peak intensities. This temporal feature leads to a double-scaled autocorrelation trace with a sub-picosecond peak riding upon a wide and smooth sub-nanosecond pedestal, suggesting a characteristic of low temporal coherence. Therefore, noise-like pulses find various applications that take advantage of their low temporal coherence, such as optical metrology, optical sensing [15

15. M. A. Putnam, M. L. Dennis, I. N. Duling, C. G. Askin, and E. J. Friebele, “Broadband square-pulses operation of passively mode-locked fiber laser for fiber gratings interrogation,” Opt. Lett. 23, 138–140 (1998). [CrossRef]

, 16

16. V. Goloborodko, S. Keren, A. Rosenthal, B. Levit, and M. Horowitz, “Measuring temperature profiles in high-power optical fiber components,” Appl. Opt. 42, 2284–2288 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], optical coherence tomography, and optical communications [17

17. S. Keren and M. Horowitz, “Interrogation of fiber gratings by use of low-coherence spectral interferometry of noiselike pulses,” Opt. Lett. 26, 328–333 (2001). [CrossRef]

19

19. S. Keren, A. Rosenthal, and M. Horowitz, “Measuring the structure of highly reflecting fiber Bragg grating,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 15, 575–577 (2003). [CrossRef]

]. On the other hand, by taking advantage of their smooth and broad spectra, noise-like pulses have been proposed as pump pulses for supercontinuum generation in nonlinear fibers [20

20. Y. Takushima, K. Yasunaka, Y. Ozeki, and K. Kikuchi, “87 nm bandwidth noise-like pulse generation from erbium-doped fiber laser,” Electron. Lett. 41, 399–400 (2005). [CrossRef]

23

23. A. Zaytsev, C. H. Lin, Y. J. You, C. C. Chung, C. L. Wang, and C. L. Pan, “Supercontinuum generation by noise-like pulses transmitted through normally dispersive standard single-mode fibers,” Opt. Express 21, 16056–16062 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

For supercontinuum generation of an ultrabroad spectrum in a nonlinear fiber, such as one with an octave spanning, pump pulses with high energies are desired, usually a few to tens of nanojoules. However, the typical energy of a pulse from a laser oscillator commonly used as the pump for supercontinuum generation, such as a passively mode-locked fiber laser, is only sub-nanojoules or a few nanojoules. Therefore, amplification of the pump pulses before they are launched into a nonlinear fiber is usually necessary. For well-defined pulses, to minimize unnecessary nonlinear effects while they propagate through an amplifier, it is a common practice to temporally stretch the pulses using extra dispersive media so that the peak power of the pulses is reduced before amplification [3

3. J. W. Nicholson, M. F. Yan, P. Wisk, J. Fleming, F. Dimarcello, E. Monberg, and A. Yablon, “All-fiber, octave-spanning supercontinuum,” Opt. Lett. 28, 643–645 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,5

5. J. W. Nicholson, R. Bise, J. Alonzo, T. Stockert, D. J. Trevor, F. Dimarcello, E. Monberg, J. M. Fini, P. S. Westbrook, K. Feder, and L. Gruner-Nielsen, “Visible continuum generation using a femtosecond Erbium-doped fiber laser and a silica nonlinear fiber,” Opt. Lett. 33, 28–30 (2008). [CrossRef]

,24

24. F. Tauser and A. Leitenstorfer, “Amplified femtosecond pulses from an Er:fiber system: Nonlinear pulse shortening and self-referencing detection of the carrier-envelope phase evolution,” Opt. Express 11, 594–600 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

26

26. J. Takayanagi, N. Nishizawa, H. Nagai, M. Yoshida, and T. Goto, “Generation of high-power femtosecond pulse and octave-spanning ultrabroad supercontinuum using all-fiber system,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 17, 37–39 (2005). [CrossRef]

]. Temporal compression of the pulses using additional dispersive media is conducted after amplification to enhance the pulse peak power for broadband supercontinuum generation [3

3. J. W. Nicholson, M. F. Yan, P. Wisk, J. Fleming, F. Dimarcello, E. Monberg, and A. Yablon, “All-fiber, octave-spanning supercontinuum,” Opt. Lett. 28, 643–645 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,5

5. J. W. Nicholson, R. Bise, J. Alonzo, T. Stockert, D. J. Trevor, F. Dimarcello, E. Monberg, J. M. Fini, P. S. Westbrook, K. Feder, and L. Gruner-Nielsen, “Visible continuum generation using a femtosecond Erbium-doped fiber laser and a silica nonlinear fiber,” Opt. Lett. 33, 28–30 (2008). [CrossRef]

,24

24. F. Tauser and A. Leitenstorfer, “Amplified femtosecond pulses from an Er:fiber system: Nonlinear pulse shortening and self-referencing detection of the carrier-envelope phase evolution,” Opt. Express 11, 594–600 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

26

26. J. Takayanagi, N. Nishizawa, H. Nagai, M. Yoshida, and T. Goto, “Generation of high-power femtosecond pulse and octave-spanning ultrabroad supercontinuum using all-fiber system,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 17, 37–39 (2005). [CrossRef]

]. For noise-like pulses, it has been experimentally and numerically found that their pulse durations can be hardly broadened or compressed by the dispersive effect [6

6. M. Horowitz, Y. Barad, and Y. Silberberg, “Noise-like pulses with a broadband spectrum generated from an erbium-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 799–801 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,9

9. S. Kobtsev, S. Kukarin, S. Smirnov, S. Turitsyn, and A. Latkin, “Generation of double-scale femto/pico-second optical limps in mode-locked fiber lasers,” Opt. Express 17, 20707–20713 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,13

13. S. Smirnov, S. Kobtsev, S. Kukarin, and A. Ivanenko, “Three key regimes of single pulse generation per round trip of all-normal-dispersion fiber lasers mode-locked with nonlinear polarization rotation,” Opt. Express 20, 27447–27453 (2012). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. This observation implies that similar processes of temporal pre-stretching and post-compression using dispersive media are difficult to achieve and thus are not necessary for noise-like pulses. Therefore, in this study, neither temporal pre-stretching nor post-compression using dispersive media is considered; only the effects of amplification on noise-like pulses and their consequences in supercontinuum generation are investigated.

As will be demonstrated in the following analyses, significant nonlinear effects in the amplifier are excited during the amplification process. This results in spectral broadening of the amplified noise-like pulses and significant temporal compression of these pulses. Therefore, simultaneous power amplification and temporal compression of noise-like pulses can be achieved. Increasing the pump power of the amplifier increases the average power of the noise-like pulses. This enhances the nonlinear effects in the amplifier, resulting in a broader spectrum and a shorter duration of the amplified noise-like pulses as the pump power increases. Therefore, by controlling the pump power of the amplifier, the compression ratio of the noise-like pulse duration can be adjusted, providing the flexibility of system operation in a dynamic manner. At a fixed average power of the noise-like pulses launched into a nonlinear fiber, supercontinuum generation with a broader spectrum is feasible due to such temporal pulse compression, which cannot be achieved through the dispersive effect.

2. Experimental setup

A schematic of the supercontinuum generation system used in this study is shown in Fig. 1(a), which consists of a noise-like pulse laser, a fiber amplifier, and a highly nonlinear fiber. The noise-like pulse laser is a fiber ring laser, as shown in Fig. 1(b), which has a cavity length of about 12.7 m. The ring cavity includes a 0.6-m erbium-doped fiber (Liekki ER80-8/125) with a peak absorption coefficient of 80 dB/m at 1530 nm and a group velocity dispersion coefficient of 15.7 ps/km-nm [27

27. H. Byun, D. Pudo, J. Chen, E. P. Ippen, and F. X. Kartner, “High-repetition-rate, 491 MHz, femtosecond fiber laser with low timing jitter,” Opt. Lett. 33, 2221–2223 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. A laser diode (JDSU S30-7602-660) operating at 976 nm with an output power of 480 mW is used to pump the fiber ring laser. A polarization-dependent isolator is used not only to ensure the unidirectional propagation of optical signals but also to limit their polarization direction. Together with the two polarization controllers, a nonlinear switching mechanism can be achieved through nonlinear polarization rotation, which leads to the generation of noise-like pulses. This nonlinear switching is similar to the one commonly used for passive mode-locking in fiber ring lasers. A 3-m dispersion compensation fiber with a group velocity dispersion coefficient of −97.7 ps/km-nm at 1550 nm is used for well-defined pulse generation, which is not our consideration in this study. With or without the dispersion compensation fiber, noise-like pulses can be generated by properly adjusting the polarization controllers [6

6. M. Horowitz, Y. Barad, and Y. Silberberg, “Noise-like pulses with a broadband spectrum generated from an erbium-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 799–801 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. About 10% of the laser power is coupled out of the ring cavity, resulting in an average output power of 14 mW, which is sent into the fiber amplifier.

Fig. 1 Schematics of (a) supercontinuum generation system, (b) noise-like pulse laser, and (c) fiber amplifier. HNLF, highly nonlinear fiber; Pump LD, pump laser diode; WDM, wavelength division multiplexer; DCF, dispersion compensation fiber; PC, polarization controller; PD ISO, polarization-dependent isolator; EDF, erbium-doped fiber; PI ISO, polarization-independent isolator; VOA, variable optical attenuator.

As shown in Fig. 1(c), a similar erbium-doped fiber (Liekki ER80-8/125) of 1.2 m length is used as the gain medium for the fiber amplifier. Two laser diodes (JDSU S30-7602-660 and S30-7602-600) both operating at 976 nm with a total power reaching up to 1088 mW are used to bi-directionally pump the fiber amplifier. Two polarization-independent isolators are used to prevent reflection back to the noise-like pulse laser and the fiber amplifier. A variable optical attenuator is used to adjust the power of the amplified pulses that are launched into the highly nonlinear fiber. The length, effective area, and nonlinear coefficient of the highly nonlinear fiber (OFS HNLF Zero-Slope) are 1 m, 12.5 μm2 at 1550 nm, and 10.7 W−1 km−1, respectively.

An optical spectrum analyzer (Anritsu MS9740A) covering a spectral range from 600 to 1750 nm is used to analyze the spectral features of the noise-like pulses at the outputs of the fiber ring laser and the fiber amplifier. To fully characterize the ultrabroad band of the supercontinuum obtained at the output of the highly nonlinear fiber, another optical spectrum analyzer (APE WaveScan) covering a spectral range from 1000 to 2600 nm is used instead. The pulse train is recorded with a 45-GHz photodiode (Discovery Semiconductors DSC 10H) and displayed on a 3-GHz real-time oscilloscope (Agilent DSO80304B). A background-free intensity autocorrelator (Femtochrone FR-103XL) is used to study the auotocorrelation traces of the noise-like pulses.

3. Results and analyses

3.1. Noise-like pulses before amplification

Figure 2(a) shows the typical optical spectrum of the noise-like pulses at the output of the fiber ring laser. The spectrum has its peak wavelength at around 1560.9 nm and a 3-dB spectral width of 13.1 nm. The corresponding pulse train presented in Fig. 2(b) shows a repetition rate of 15.5 MHz with a randomly varying peak intensity among pulses. To analyze the pulse characteristics, the autocorrelation trace of these optical pulses is investigated, as shown in Figs. 2(c) and 2(d). A 352-fs peak rides upon a wide and smooth 44.4-ps pedestal, and the intensity ratio of the pedestal to the peak is about 0.5. Note that the durations of the peak and the pedestal are defined as the full widths at half maximum of their Gaussian fitting curves, as shown in red in the figures. The occurrence of the wide and smooth sub-nanosecond pedestal indicates that the optical fields under investigation are composed of sub-nanosecond wavepackets with a fine inner structure of pulses that are temporally separated in a random, complex fashion [28

28. J. Ratner, G. Steinmeyer, T. C. Wong, R. Bartels, and R. Trebino, “Coherent artifacts in modern pulse measurements,” Opt. Lett. 37, 2874–2876 (2012). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The sub-picosecond peak, on the other hand, suggests that the pulses within the wavepackets have sub-picosecond temporal durations [28

28. J. Ratner, G. Steinmeyer, T. C. Wong, R. Bartels, and R. Trebino, “Coherent artifacts in modern pulse measurements,” Opt. Lett. 37, 2874–2876 (2012). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. The pedestal-to-peak intensity ratio of 0.5 indicates that the spectral components of the optical fields are highly uncorrelated and therefore the optical fields have low temporal coherence [9

9. S. Kobtsev, S. Kukarin, S. Smirnov, S. Turitsyn, and A. Latkin, “Generation of double-scale femto/pico-second optical limps in mode-locked fiber lasers,” Opt. Express 17, 20707–20713 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 12

12. A. Boucon, B. Barviau, J. Fatome, C. Finot, T. Sylvestre, M.W. Lee, P. Grelu, and G. Millot, “Noise-like pulses generated at high harmonics in a partially-mode-locked km-long Raman fiber laser,” Appl. Phys. B 106, 283–287 (2012). [CrossRef]

, 14

14. A. F. J. Runge, C. Aguergaray, N. G. R. Broderick, and M. Erkintalo, “Coherence and shot-to-shot spectral fluctuations in noise-like ultrafast fiber lasers,” Opt. Lett. 38, 4327–4330 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Such a low-coherence characteristic suggests a substantial fluctuation in shot-to-shot optical spectra, each individual of which is highly structured. The ensemble average of the shot-to-shot spectra gives rise to a smooth optical spectrum obtained using a conventional spectrum analyzer [9

9. S. Kobtsev, S. Kukarin, S. Smirnov, S. Turitsyn, and A. Latkin, “Generation of double-scale femto/pico-second optical limps in mode-locked fiber lasers,” Opt. Express 17, 20707–20713 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 12

12. A. Boucon, B. Barviau, J. Fatome, C. Finot, T. Sylvestre, M.W. Lee, P. Grelu, and G. Millot, “Noise-like pulses generated at high harmonics in a partially-mode-locked km-long Raman fiber laser,” Appl. Phys. B 106, 283–287 (2012). [CrossRef]

, 14

14. A. F. J. Runge, C. Aguergaray, N. G. R. Broderick, and M. Erkintalo, “Coherence and shot-to-shot spectral fluctuations in noise-like ultrafast fiber lasers,” Opt. Lett. 38, 4327–4330 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], as that shown in Fig. 2(a). The pedestal-to-peak intensity ratio of 0.5 also suggests that the intensities of the sub-picosecond pulses vary randomly [6

6. M. Horowitz, Y. Barad, and Y. Silberberg, “Noise-like pulses with a broadband spectrum generated from an erbium-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 799–801 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 9

9. S. Kobtsev, S. Kukarin, S. Smirnov, S. Turitsyn, and A. Latkin, “Generation of double-scale femto/pico-second optical limps in mode-locked fiber lasers,” Opt. Express 17, 20707–20713 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 12

12. A. Boucon, B. Barviau, J. Fatome, C. Finot, T. Sylvestre, M.W. Lee, P. Grelu, and G. Millot, “Noise-like pulses generated at high harmonics in a partially-mode-locked km-long Raman fiber laser,” Appl. Phys. B 106, 283–287 (2012). [CrossRef]

]. This leads to the intensity fluctuation of the wavepackets; such fluctuation is seen in the pulse train presented in Fig. 2(b). The observed characteristics of the autocorrelation trace together with the broad and smooth optical spectrum are identifying features common to all reported noise-like pulses in the literature [6

6. M. Horowitz, Y. Barad, and Y. Silberberg, “Noise-like pulses with a broadband spectrum generated from an erbium-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 799–801 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

14

14. A. F. J. Runge, C. Aguergaray, N. G. R. Broderick, and M. Erkintalo, “Coherence and shot-to-shot spectral fluctuations in noise-like ultrafast fiber lasers,” Opt. Lett. 38, 4327–4330 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

Fig. 2 (a) Optical spectrum, (b) pulse train, (c) autocorrelation trace, and (d) magnification of autocorrelation trace of noise-like pulses. Red curves in (c) and (d) are Gaussian fitting of the pedestal and the peak, respectively.

3.2. Amplification of noise-like pump pulses

By sending the noise-like pulses through the fiber amplifier, their average power increases linearly with the pump power of the amplifier at a slope of 0.19, as shown in Fig. 3. A maximum output power of about 202 mW can be achieved at a pump power level of 1088 mW, leading to an amplification of 11.6 dB. In addition, the optical spectrum of the amplified noise-like pulses broadens significantly, which indicates that the noise-like pulses experience significant nonlinear optical effects during the amplification process. Note that it is a common practice to temporally stretch well-defined pulses using extra dispersive media before amplification in order to lower their peak power and therefore to avoid inducing excessive nonlinear effects in amplifiers. Such temporal stretching is not conducted in this study because it is not effective and not necessary for the noise-like pulses. To demonstrate the spectral broadening, the 3-dB spectral width is also presented in Fig. 3 as a function of the pump power of the amplifier. At pump powers below 500 mW, though the spectral width increases monotonically with the pump power, it is actually smaller than its input value of 13.1 nm, indicating the effect of gain narrowing [24

24. F. Tauser and A. Leitenstorfer, “Amplified femtosecond pulses from an Er:fiber system: Nonlinear pulse shortening and self-referencing detection of the carrier-envelope phase evolution,” Opt. Express 11, 594–600 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 25

25. J. W. Nicholson, A. D. Yablon, P. S. Westbrook, K. S. Feder, and M. F. Yan, “High power, single mode, all-fiber source of femtosecond pulses at 1550 nm and its use in supercontinuum generaiton,” Opt. Express 12, 3025–3034 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. By contrast, at pump powers above 500 mW, the spectral width becomes larger than its input value and continues to increase with the pump power. This result suggests that other nonlinear effects, such as self-phase modulation, counteract the gain narrowing effect [24

24. F. Tauser and A. Leitenstorfer, “Amplified femtosecond pulses from an Er:fiber system: Nonlinear pulse shortening and self-referencing detection of the carrier-envelope phase evolution,” Opt. Express 11, 594–600 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 25

25. J. W. Nicholson, A. D. Yablon, P. S. Westbrook, K. S. Feder, and M. F. Yan, “High power, single mode, all-fiber source of femtosecond pulses at 1550 nm and its use in supercontinuum generaiton,” Opt. Express 12, 3025–3034 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] to broaden the spectrum at high pump powers. The spectrum is broadened up to 21.5 nm at a pump power of 1088 mW, leading to an enhancement of 1.64 folds.

Fig. 3 Output power (black symbols) and 3-dB spectral width (red symbols) of amplified noise-like pulses in terms of pump power of the fiber amplifier.

The effect of this spectral width enhancement on the temporal feature of the amplified noise-like pulses is presented in Figs. 4(a) and 4(b) at the pump power of 1088 mW. A similar double-scaled autocorrelation trace is observed with a pedestal-to-peak intensity ratio of 0.5. Similar autocorrelation traces and pedestal-to-peak intensity ratios are observed at other pump powers of the amplifier under study, as presented in Fig. 4(c), suggesting a similar noise-like characteristic after amplification. As shown in Figs. 4(a) and 4(b), the peak duration of the autocorrelation trace reduces significantly down to 139 fs at the pump power of 1088 mW, suggesting that the temporal durations of the amplified noise-like pulses are similarly shortened. Meanwhile, the pedestal duration increases only slightly to 46.9 ps, suggesting that the wavepackets expand in a similar fashion. In fact, as shown in Fig. 5(a), the peak duration compresses monotonically with the pump power of the amplifier, reaching a compression ratio of about 0.4 at the maximum pump power. This feature results from the fact addressed in Fig. 3 that the spectral width increases with the pump power. Note that the peak duration after amplification is, however, longer than that before amplification at pump powers below 200 mW due to the gain narrowing effect that reduces the spectral width. By contrast, as shown in Fig. 5(b), the pedestal duration only varies slightly over the range of amplifier pump power under study, maintaining a compression ratio of about 1.

Fig. 4 (a) Autocorrelation trace, (b) magnification of autocorrelation trace, and (c) ratio of the pedestal level to the peak in the autocorrelation trace as a function of amplifier pump power for amplified noise-like pulses. Red curves in (a) and (b) are Gaussian fitting of the pedestal and the peak, respectively.
Fig. 5 Duration (black symbols) and compression ratio (red symbols) of (a) the peak and (b) the pedestal in the autocorrelation traces in terms of pump power of the fiber amplifier.

3.3. Supercontinuum generation using amplified noise-like pump pulses

The ability to shorten the noise-like pulses through the amplification process provides an advantage in generating a broader spectrum of supercontinuum pumped by such pulses at a fixed average power. Figure 6(a) demonstrates the spectra of the supercontinua at four different average powers of the amplified noise-like pulses launched into the highly nonlinear fiber. Two different operating conditions are considered in each plot. First, while the pump power of the amplifier is fixed at the maximum level of 1088 mW, the launched power of the amplified noise-like pulses is adjusted through the variable optical attenuator shown in Fig. 1(c). Under this condition, the peak duration in the autocorrelation trace of the amplified noise-like pulses is maintained at 139 fs throughout the launched power adjustment. Second, while the power attenuation through the variable optical attenuator is kept at the minimum level, the pump power of the amplifier is adjusted to vary the launched power of the amplified noise-like pulses. Under this condition, the average power of the amplified noise-like pulses increases while the peak duration of their autocorrelation trace decreases with the launched power. The launched powers of 51, 78, 106, and 202 mW indicated in Fig. 6(a) correspond to amplifier pump powers of 282, 431, 580, and 1088 mW, respectively. The corresponding peak durations are 314, 248, 204, and 139 fs, respectively. Therefore, for the same launched power, the duration of the noise-like pulses obtained under the first operating condition is generally shorter than that obtained under the second operating condition.

Fig. 6 (a) Optical spectra and (b) 20-dB spectral widths of supercontinua at different powers of noise-like pulses launched into the highly nonlinear fiber. Each launched power studied in (a) is indicated in each plot. Black curves and symbols are obtained when the launched power is adjusted through the variable optical attenuator, while red curves and symbols are obtained when the launched power is changed by varying the pump power of the fiber amplifier.

Figure 6(a) clearly demonstrates the advantage of using noise-like pulses of shorter temporal durations for a broader spectrum of supercontinuum generation: at the same average launched power, the supercontinuum spectrum increases with the temporal shortening of the noise-like pulses. As the launched power is increased, the difference in the pulse duration becomes smaller between the two operating conditions; therefore, the two supercontinuum spectra become more similar. At the launched power of 51 mW, where the pulse duration differs by more than 2 folds between the two operating conditions, it is observed that short pulses are in favor of generating long-wavelength components. Similar observations are found at launched powers of 78 and 106 mW even though they are not as evident due to the smaller difference in the pulse duration between the two operating conditions. At the launched power of 202 mW, where the two operating conditions have the same shortest pulse duration of 139 fs in this study, an ultrabroad spectrum of supercontinuum spanning from 1208 to 2111 nm is generated. A wider and flatter spectrum can be obtained if a nonlinear fiber of a larger length is used [20

20. Y. Takushima, K. Yasunaka, Y. Ozeki, and K. Kikuchi, “87 nm bandwidth noise-like pulse generation from erbium-doped fiber laser,” Electron. Lett. 41, 399–400 (2005). [CrossRef]

], which is particularly beneficial for the emergence of long-wavelength components mainly due to the nonlinear effect of Raman self-frequency shift [1

1. J. M. Dudley, G. Genty, and S. Coen, “Supercontinuum generation in photonic crystal fiber,” Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 1135–1184 (2006). [CrossRef]

, 23

23. A. Zaytsev, C. H. Lin, Y. J. You, C. C. Chung, C. L. Wang, and C. L. Pan, “Supercontinuum generation by noise-like pulses transmitted through normally dispersive standard single-mode fibers,” Opt. Express 21, 16056–16062 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Note that, under the first operating condition where the correlation peak duration of the noise-like pump pulses is fixed, a higher launched power generates a wider and flatter supercontinuum spectrum of substantial long-wavelength components, as shown in Fig. 6(a). This result agrees with the observations reported in the literature using either well-defined or noise-like pump pulses for supercontinumm generation [2

2. X. Gu, L. Xu, M. Kimmel, E. Zeek, P. O’Shea, A. P. Shreenath, and R. Trebino, “Frequency-resolved optical gating and single-shot spectral measurements reveal fine structure in microstructure-fiber continuum,” Opt. Lett. 27, 1174–1176 (2002). [CrossRef]

, 20

20. Y. Takushima, K. Yasunaka, Y. Ozeki, and K. Kikuchi, “87 nm bandwidth noise-like pulse generation from erbium-doped fiber laser,” Electron. Lett. 41, 399–400 (2005). [CrossRef]

, 22

22. J. C. Hernandez-Garcia, O. Pottiez, and J. M. Estudillo-Ayala, “Supercontinuum generation in a standard fiber pumped by noise-like pulses from a figure-right fiber laser,” Laser Phys. 22, 221–226 (2012). [CrossRef]

, 23

23. A. Zaytsev, C. H. Lin, Y. J. You, C. C. Chung, C. L. Wang, and C. L. Pan, “Supercontinuum generation by noise-like pulses transmitted through normally dispersive standard single-mode fibers,” Opt. Express 21, 16056–16062 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Since the Raman self-frequency shift contributes to the generation of long-wavelength components in supercontinuum generation [1

1. J. M. Dudley, G. Genty, and S. Coen, “Supercontinuum generation in photonic crystal fiber,” Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 1135–1184 (2006). [CrossRef]

, 22

22. J. C. Hernandez-Garcia, O. Pottiez, and J. M. Estudillo-Ayala, “Supercontinuum generation in a standard fiber pumped by noise-like pulses from a figure-right fiber laser,” Laser Phys. 22, 221–226 (2012). [CrossRef]

], it plays a key role in generating wider and flatter spectra of these supercontinua. To quantify the spectral span of each generated supercontinuum for further comparison and analysis, the 20-dB spectral width is experimentally estimated. Figure 6(b) presents the spectral width as a function of the launched power for the two operating conditions. As observed, a broader spectrum is generally obtained under the first operating condition for a given launched power. The difference in spectral width between the two operating conditions decreases with the launched power as the two supercontinuum spectra become more similar to each other.

4. Conclusion

Supercontinuum generation in a highly nonlinear fiber pumped by noise-like pulses from an erbium-doped fiber ring laser is investigated. To generate ultrabroad spectra, a fiber amplifier is used to boost the power launched into the highly nonlinear fiber. Since the temporal durations of the noise-like pulses are hardly broadened or compressed by the dispersive effect, temporal pulse stretching and compression using extra dispersive media before and after amplification, respectively, are both not considered in this investigation. Therefore, this study emphasizes the effects of amplification on the noise-like pulses and their consequences in the supercontinuum generation. After amplification, not only the average power of the noise-like pulses is enhanced, but the spectrum of the pulses is also broadened due to nonlinear optical effects in the fiber amplifier. This leads to a reduction of the peak duration in their autocorrelation trace, suggesting a similar extent of pulse compression; meanwhile, the pedestal duration increases only slightly, suggesting that the noise-like characteristic is maintained. By controlling the pump power of the fiber amplifier, the compression ratio of the noise-like pulse duration can be adjusted. At a given average power of the noise-like pulses launched into the highly nonlinear fiber, generation of a broader supercontinuum spectrum, up to 3 times broader, is therefore feasible by taking advantage of this pulse compression through the amplification process. As a result, a supercontinuum spectrum spanning from 1208 to 2111 nm is achieved using a 1-m nonlinear fiber pumped by amplified noise-like pulses of 15.5 MHz repetition rate at an average power of 202 mW. Besides supercontinuum generation, the features of temporal compression and spectral broadening of these amplified noise-like pulses may find useful applications in, for example, optical metrology, optical sensing, optical coherence tomography, and optical communications.

Acknowledgments

S.K. Hwang’s work is supported by the National Science Council of Taiwan under Contract NSC102-2112-M-006-004.

References and links

1.

J. M. Dudley, G. Genty, and S. Coen, “Supercontinuum generation in photonic crystal fiber,” Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 1135–1184 (2006). [CrossRef]

2.

X. Gu, L. Xu, M. Kimmel, E. Zeek, P. O’Shea, A. P. Shreenath, and R. Trebino, “Frequency-resolved optical gating and single-shot spectral measurements reveal fine structure in microstructure-fiber continuum,” Opt. Lett. 27, 1174–1176 (2002). [CrossRef]

3.

J. W. Nicholson, M. F. Yan, P. Wisk, J. Fleming, F. Dimarcello, E. Monberg, and A. Yablon, “All-fiber, octave-spanning supercontinuum,” Opt. Lett. 28, 643–645 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

4.

T. Hori, J. Takayanagi, N. Nishizawa, and T. Goto, “Flatly broadened, wideband and low noise supercontinuum generation in highly nonlinear hybrid fiber,” Opt. Express 12, 317–324 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

5.

J. W. Nicholson, R. Bise, J. Alonzo, T. Stockert, D. J. Trevor, F. Dimarcello, E. Monberg, J. M. Fini, P. S. Westbrook, K. Feder, and L. Gruner-Nielsen, “Visible continuum generation using a femtosecond Erbium-doped fiber laser and a silica nonlinear fiber,” Opt. Lett. 33, 28–30 (2008). [CrossRef]

6.

M. Horowitz, Y. Barad, and Y. Silberberg, “Noise-like pulses with a broadband spectrum generated from an erbium-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 799–801 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

7.

D. Y. Tang, L. M. Zhao, and B. Zhao, “Soliton collapse and bunched noise-like pulse generation in a passively mode-locked fiber ring laser,” Opt. Express 13, 2289–2294 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

8.

L. M. Chao, D. Y. Tang, T. H. Cheng, H. Y. Tam, and C. Lu, “120 nm bandwidth noise-like pulse generation in an Erbium-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Commun. 281, 157–161 (2008). [CrossRef]

9.

S. Kobtsev, S. Kukarin, S. Smirnov, S. Turitsyn, and A. Latkin, “Generation of double-scale femto/pico-second optical limps in mode-locked fiber lasers,” Opt. Express 17, 20707–20713 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

10.

O. Pottiez, R. Grajales-Coutino, B. Ibarra-Escamilla, E. Kuzin, and J. Hernandez-Garcia, “Adjustable noiselike pulses from a figure-eight fiber laser,” Appl. Opt. 50, E24–E31 (2011). [CrossRef]

11.

L. A. Vazquez-Zuniga and Y. Jeong, “Super-broadband noise-like pulse Erbium-doped fiber ring laser with a highly nonlinear fiber for Raman gain enhancement,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 24, 1549–1551 (2012). [CrossRef]

12.

A. Boucon, B. Barviau, J. Fatome, C. Finot, T. Sylvestre, M.W. Lee, P. Grelu, and G. Millot, “Noise-like pulses generated at high harmonics in a partially-mode-locked km-long Raman fiber laser,” Appl. Phys. B 106, 283–287 (2012). [CrossRef]

13.

S. Smirnov, S. Kobtsev, S. Kukarin, and A. Ivanenko, “Three key regimes of single pulse generation per round trip of all-normal-dispersion fiber lasers mode-locked with nonlinear polarization rotation,” Opt. Express 20, 27447–27453 (2012). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

14.

A. F. J. Runge, C. Aguergaray, N. G. R. Broderick, and M. Erkintalo, “Coherence and shot-to-shot spectral fluctuations in noise-like ultrafast fiber lasers,” Opt. Lett. 38, 4327–4330 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

15.

M. A. Putnam, M. L. Dennis, I. N. Duling, C. G. Askin, and E. J. Friebele, “Broadband square-pulses operation of passively mode-locked fiber laser for fiber gratings interrogation,” Opt. Lett. 23, 138–140 (1998). [CrossRef]

16.

V. Goloborodko, S. Keren, A. Rosenthal, B. Levit, and M. Horowitz, “Measuring temperature profiles in high-power optical fiber components,” Appl. Opt. 42, 2284–2288 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

17.

S. Keren and M. Horowitz, “Interrogation of fiber gratings by use of low-coherence spectral interferometry of noiselike pulses,” Opt. Lett. 26, 328–333 (2001). [CrossRef]

18.

S. Keren, E. Brand, Y. Levi, B. Levit, and M. Horowitz, “Data storage in optical fibers and reconstruction by use of low-coherence spectral interferometry,” Opt. Lett. 27, 125–127 (2002). [CrossRef]

19.

S. Keren, A. Rosenthal, and M. Horowitz, “Measuring the structure of highly reflecting fiber Bragg grating,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 15, 575–577 (2003). [CrossRef]

20.

Y. Takushima, K. Yasunaka, Y. Ozeki, and K. Kikuchi, “87 nm bandwidth noise-like pulse generation from erbium-doped fiber laser,” Electron. Lett. 41, 399–400 (2005). [CrossRef]

21.

S. M. Kobtsev, S. V. Kukarin, and S. V. Smirnov, “All-fiber high-energy supercontinuum pulse generator,” Laser Phys. 20, 375–378 (2010). [CrossRef]

22.

J. C. Hernandez-Garcia, O. Pottiez, and J. M. Estudillo-Ayala, “Supercontinuum generation in a standard fiber pumped by noise-like pulses from a figure-right fiber laser,” Laser Phys. 22, 221–226 (2012). [CrossRef]

23.

A. Zaytsev, C. H. Lin, Y. J. You, C. C. Chung, C. L. Wang, and C. L. Pan, “Supercontinuum generation by noise-like pulses transmitted through normally dispersive standard single-mode fibers,” Opt. Express 21, 16056–16062 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

24.

F. Tauser and A. Leitenstorfer, “Amplified femtosecond pulses from an Er:fiber system: Nonlinear pulse shortening and self-referencing detection of the carrier-envelope phase evolution,” Opt. Express 11, 594–600 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

25.

J. W. Nicholson, A. D. Yablon, P. S. Westbrook, K. S. Feder, and M. F. Yan, “High power, single mode, all-fiber source of femtosecond pulses at 1550 nm and its use in supercontinuum generaiton,” Opt. Express 12, 3025–3034 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

26.

J. Takayanagi, N. Nishizawa, H. Nagai, M. Yoshida, and T. Goto, “Generation of high-power femtosecond pulse and octave-spanning ultrabroad supercontinuum using all-fiber system,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 17, 37–39 (2005). [CrossRef]

27.

H. Byun, D. Pudo, J. Chen, E. P. Ippen, and F. X. Kartner, “High-repetition-rate, 491 MHz, femtosecond fiber laser with low timing jitter,” Opt. Lett. 33, 2221–2223 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

28.

J. Ratner, G. Steinmeyer, T. C. Wong, R. Bartels, and R. Trebino, “Coherent artifacts in modern pulse measurements,” Opt. Lett. 37, 2874–2876 (2012). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

OCIS Codes
(140.3510) Lasers and laser optics : Lasers, fiber
(140.4050) Lasers and laser optics : Mode-locked lasers
(320.2250) Ultrafast optics : Femtosecond phenomena
(320.7090) Ultrafast optics : Ultrafast lasers
(320.7110) Ultrafast optics : Ultrafast nonlinear optics
(320.6629) Ultrafast optics : Supercontinuum generation

ToC Category:
Fiber Optics

History
Original Manuscript: December 13, 2013
Revised Manuscript: January 23, 2014
Manuscript Accepted: February 1, 2014
Published: February 14, 2014

Citation
Shih-Shian Lin, Sheng-Kwang Hwang, and Jia-Ming Liu, "Supercontinuum generation in highly nonlinear fibers using amplified noise-like optical pulses," Opt. Express 22, 4152-4160 (2014)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-22-4-4152


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References

  1. J. M. Dudley, G. Genty, S. Coen, “Supercontinuum generation in photonic crystal fiber,” Rev. Mod. Phys. 78, 1135–1184 (2006). [CrossRef]
  2. X. Gu, L. Xu, M. Kimmel, E. Zeek, P. O’Shea, A. P. Shreenath, R. Trebino, “Frequency-resolved optical gating and single-shot spectral measurements reveal fine structure in microstructure-fiber continuum,” Opt. Lett. 27, 1174–1176 (2002). [CrossRef]
  3. J. W. Nicholson, M. F. Yan, P. Wisk, J. Fleming, F. Dimarcello, E. Monberg, A. Yablon, “All-fiber, octave-spanning supercontinuum,” Opt. Lett. 28, 643–645 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. T. Hori, J. Takayanagi, N. Nishizawa, T. Goto, “Flatly broadened, wideband and low noise supercontinuum generation in highly nonlinear hybrid fiber,” Opt. Express 12, 317–324 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. J. W. Nicholson, R. Bise, J. Alonzo, T. Stockert, D. J. Trevor, F. Dimarcello, E. Monberg, J. M. Fini, P. S. Westbrook, K. Feder, L. Gruner-Nielsen, “Visible continuum generation using a femtosecond Erbium-doped fiber laser and a silica nonlinear fiber,” Opt. Lett. 33, 28–30 (2008). [CrossRef]
  6. M. Horowitz, Y. Barad, Y. Silberberg, “Noise-like pulses with a broadband spectrum generated from an erbium-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Lett. 22, 799–801 (1997). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. D. Y. Tang, L. M. Zhao, B. Zhao, “Soliton collapse and bunched noise-like pulse generation in a passively mode-locked fiber ring laser,” Opt. Express 13, 2289–2294 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. L. M. Chao, D. Y. Tang, T. H. Cheng, H. Y. Tam, C. Lu, “120 nm bandwidth noise-like pulse generation in an Erbium-doped fiber laser,” Opt. Commun. 281, 157–161 (2008). [CrossRef]
  9. S. Kobtsev, S. Kukarin, S. Smirnov, S. Turitsyn, A. Latkin, “Generation of double-scale femto/pico-second optical limps in mode-locked fiber lasers,” Opt. Express 17, 20707–20713 (2009). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  10. O. Pottiez, R. Grajales-Coutino, B. Ibarra-Escamilla, E. Kuzin, J. Hernandez-Garcia, “Adjustable noiselike pulses from a figure-eight fiber laser,” Appl. Opt. 50, E24–E31 (2011). [CrossRef]
  11. L. A. Vazquez-Zuniga, Y. Jeong, “Super-broadband noise-like pulse Erbium-doped fiber ring laser with a highly nonlinear fiber for Raman gain enhancement,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 24, 1549–1551 (2012). [CrossRef]
  12. A. Boucon, B. Barviau, J. Fatome, C. Finot, T. Sylvestre, M.W. Lee, P. Grelu, G. Millot, “Noise-like pulses generated at high harmonics in a partially-mode-locked km-long Raman fiber laser,” Appl. Phys. B 106, 283–287 (2012). [CrossRef]
  13. S. Smirnov, S. Kobtsev, S. Kukarin, A. Ivanenko, “Three key regimes of single pulse generation per round trip of all-normal-dispersion fiber lasers mode-locked with nonlinear polarization rotation,” Opt. Express 20, 27447–27453 (2012). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. A. F. J. Runge, C. Aguergaray, N. G. R. Broderick, M. Erkintalo, “Coherence and shot-to-shot spectral fluctuations in noise-like ultrafast fiber lasers,” Opt. Lett. 38, 4327–4330 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  15. M. A. Putnam, M. L. Dennis, I. N. Duling, C. G. Askin, E. J. Friebele, “Broadband square-pulses operation of passively mode-locked fiber laser for fiber gratings interrogation,” Opt. Lett. 23, 138–140 (1998). [CrossRef]
  16. V. Goloborodko, S. Keren, A. Rosenthal, B. Levit, M. Horowitz, “Measuring temperature profiles in high-power optical fiber components,” Appl. Opt. 42, 2284–2288 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  17. S. Keren, M. Horowitz, “Interrogation of fiber gratings by use of low-coherence spectral interferometry of noiselike pulses,” Opt. Lett. 26, 328–333 (2001). [CrossRef]
  18. S. Keren, E. Brand, Y. Levi, B. Levit, M. Horowitz, “Data storage in optical fibers and reconstruction by use of low-coherence spectral interferometry,” Opt. Lett. 27, 125–127 (2002). [CrossRef]
  19. S. Keren, A. Rosenthal, M. Horowitz, “Measuring the structure of highly reflecting fiber Bragg grating,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 15, 575–577 (2003). [CrossRef]
  20. Y. Takushima, K. Yasunaka, Y. Ozeki, K. Kikuchi, “87 nm bandwidth noise-like pulse generation from erbium-doped fiber laser,” Electron. Lett. 41, 399–400 (2005). [CrossRef]
  21. S. M. Kobtsev, S. V. Kukarin, S. V. Smirnov, “All-fiber high-energy supercontinuum pulse generator,” Laser Phys. 20, 375–378 (2010). [CrossRef]
  22. J. C. Hernandez-Garcia, O. Pottiez, J. M. Estudillo-Ayala, “Supercontinuum generation in a standard fiber pumped by noise-like pulses from a figure-right fiber laser,” Laser Phys. 22, 221–226 (2012). [CrossRef]
  23. A. Zaytsev, C. H. Lin, Y. J. You, C. C. Chung, C. L. Wang, C. L. Pan, “Supercontinuum generation by noise-like pulses transmitted through normally dispersive standard single-mode fibers,” Opt. Express 21, 16056–16062 (2013). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  24. F. Tauser, A. Leitenstorfer, “Amplified femtosecond pulses from an Er:fiber system: Nonlinear pulse shortening and self-referencing detection of the carrier-envelope phase evolution,” Opt. Express 11, 594–600 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  25. J. W. Nicholson, A. D. Yablon, P. S. Westbrook, K. S. Feder, M. F. Yan, “High power, single mode, all-fiber source of femtosecond pulses at 1550 nm and its use in supercontinuum generaiton,” Opt. Express 12, 3025–3034 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  26. J. Takayanagi, N. Nishizawa, H. Nagai, M. Yoshida, T. Goto, “Generation of high-power femtosecond pulse and octave-spanning ultrabroad supercontinuum using all-fiber system,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 17, 37–39 (2005). [CrossRef]
  27. H. Byun, D. Pudo, J. Chen, E. P. Ippen, F. X. Kartner, “High-repetition-rate, 491 MHz, femtosecond fiber laser with low timing jitter,” Opt. Lett. 33, 2221–2223 (2008). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  28. J. Ratner, G. Steinmeyer, T. C. Wong, R. Bartels, R. Trebino, “Coherent artifacts in modern pulse measurements,” Opt. Lett. 37, 2874–2876 (2012). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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