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Title:
OPTICAL FIBER SUPERLUMINESCENT LIGHT SOURCE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/034873
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
An apparatus includes an amplified spontaneous emission source, which in turn includes an optical fiber. The optical, fiber includes a solid core and a first end. The solid core includes a silica matrix. The silica matrix includes a rare-earth element and a glass co-dopant. The rate-earth element includes dysprosium or neodymium. The glass co-dopant includes AI2O3. The apparatus further includes a laser pump diode coupled to the first end of the optical fiber. The laser pump diode and the optical fiber cooperate to generate a spontaneous spectral emission confined to the solid core. The spontaneous spectral emission includes a simultaneous plurality of spectral regions.

Inventors:
GATTASS RAFAEL (US)
BAKER COLIN (US)
CARLSON AUGUSTUS (US)
SHAW BRANDON (US)
JASBINDER SANGHERA (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2020/046880
Publication Date:
February 25, 2021
Filing Date:
August 19, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
US GOV SEC NAVY (US)
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BROOME, Kerry, L. (US)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed as new and desired to he protected by Leters Patent of the United

States is;

1. An apparatus comprisi ng : an amplified spontaneous emission source comprising an optical fiber, said optical fiber comprising a solid core and a first end, said: solid core comprising a silica matrix, said silica matrix comprising a rare-earth element and a glass co-dopant, said rare-earth element comprises dysprosium, said glass eo-dopant comprises Al2O3; and a laser pump diode coupled to said first end of said optical fiber, said laser pump diode and said optical fiber cooperating to generate a spontaneous spectral emission confined to said solid core, the spontaneous spectral emission comprising a simultaneous plurality of spectral regions, wherein the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions comprises at least two of an about 470 to 505 nra spectral region, an about 545 to 625 nm spectral region, an about 635 nm to 700 nra spectral region, an about 730 to 785 nm spectral region, an about 815 to 865 nm spectral region, and an about 880 to 895 nm spectral region.

2. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said rare-earth element comprises a dysprosium concentration and said glass co-dopant comprises an AlaCfe concentration, wherein a ratio of Al2O3 concentration to dysprosium concentration is between 5:1 and

100:1.

3. The apparatus according to claim 2, wherein said glass co-dopant furthercomprises P2O3, said glass co-dopant comprising a P2O3 concentration, wherein a ratio of Al2O3 concentration to P2O3 concentration is between 0 and 0,8,

4. The apparatus according to claim L wherein said laser pump diode comprises a center emission between 400 mn and 500 nm in wavelength and comprises a power between 5 mW and 500 mW.

5. T he apparatus according to claim 4, wherein said optical fiber comprises a second end, the apparatus further comprising: a fiber-coupled optical isolator connected to said second end of said optical fiber.

6. The apparatus according to claim 4, wherein said optical fiber comprises a second end, the apparatus further com prising: a fiber-coupled filter connected to said second end of said op tical fiber and passing a respective spectral region from the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions.

7. The apparatus according to claim 4, wherein said optical fiber comprises a second end, the apparatus further comprising: a plurality of fiber-coupled filters connected to said second end of said optical fiber and passing a plurality of respective spectral regions from the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions; and a fiber switch located between said optical fiber and said plurality of fiber-coupled filter, wherein said fiber switch and said plurality of fiber-coupled filters cooperate to select for output from among the plurality of respective spectral regions.

8, The apparatus according to claim 1 , further comprising: an intensity modulator communicating with said laser pump diode thereby temporally modulating said laser pump diode

9 The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said optical fiber comprises a polarization- maintaining optical fiber

10. The apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein said optical fiber is prepared by a process comprises: fabricating the silica matrix by solution doping using dysprosium ions (Dy+ ), the dysprosium ions comprising a dysprosium ion concentration between 0.5 ´ 102 m-3 and 10 ´ 102 m-3

11. An apparatus comprising : an amplified spontaneous emission source comprising an optical fiber, said optical fiber comprising a solid core and a first end, said solid core comprising a silica matrix, said silica matrix comprising a rare-earth element and a glass co-dopant, said rare-earth element comprises neodymium, said glass eo~dopaut comprises Al2O3; and a laser pump diode coupled to said first end of said optical fiber, said laser pump diode and said optical fiber cooperating to generate a spontaneous spectral emission confined to said solid core, the spontaneous spectral emission comprising a simultaneous plurality of spectral regions, wherein the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions comprises at least two of an about 765 nm to 840 nm spectral region, an about 840 nm to 1000 nm spectral region and an about 1000 to 1160 nm spectral region.

12, The apparatus according to claim 11, wherein said rare-earth element comprises a neodymium concentration and said glass co-dopant comprises an Al2O3 concentration, wherein a ratio of AbOj concentration to neodymium concentration is between 20; 1 and

100:1.

13, The apparatus according to claim 1.2, wherein said glass co-dopant further comprises P2O3, said glass co-dopant comprising a P2O3 concentration, wherein a ratio of AbOi concentration to P2O3 concentration is between 0 and 0.8.

14, The apparatus according to claim 11 , wherein said laser pump diode comprises a center emission between 400 nm and 500 nm in wavelength and comprises a power between 5 mW and 500 mW.

15, The apparatus according to claim 14, wherein said optical fiber comprises a second end, the apparatus further comprising: a fiber-coupled optical isolator connected to said second end of said optical fiber. 16 The apparatus according to claim 14, wherein said optical fiber comprises a second end, the apparatus further comprising: a liber-coupled filter connected to said second end of said optical fiber and passing a respective spectral region from the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions.

17, The apparatus according to claim 14, wherein said optical fiber comprises a second end, the apparatus further comprising: a plurality of fiber-coupled filters connected to said second end of said optical fiber and passing a plurality of respective spectral regions from the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions; and a fiber swi tch located between said optical fiber and said plurality of fiber-coupled filter, wherein said fiber switch and said plurality of fiber-coupled filters cooperate to select for output from among the plurality of respective spectral regions

18, The apparatus according to claim 11, further comprising: an intensity modulator communicating with said laser pump diode thereby temporally modulating said laser pump diode.

19, The apparatus according to claim 11 , wherein said optical liber comprises a polarization- maintaining optical fiber.

20. live apparatus according to claim 11, wherein said optical fiber is prepared by a process comprises: fabricating the silica matrix by solution doping using neodymium ions (Nd+ ), the neodymium ions comprising a neodymium ion concentration between 0.1 x 1025 m-3 and 10 × 1025 m-3.

Description:
Optical fiber superluminescent light source

[0001] This Application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial No.

62/889,591 filed on 21 August 2019, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FEDERALLY-SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT [0002] The United States Government has ownership rights in this invention Licensing inquiries may be directed to Office of Technology Transfer, US Naval Research Laboratory', Code 1004, Washington, DC 20375, USA; +1.202.767.7230; techtran@nrl.navy.mil, referencing NC

10885S-US2.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention relates in general to an amplified spontaneous emission source, and in particular to an amplified spontaneous emission source using a rare-earth -doped optical fiber.

Description of the Related Art

[0004] Superluminescent sources are based on amplified spontaneous emission from an optically active gain medium. Materials capable of active gain can be rare-earth (or transition metal) doped transparent materials and electricallydriven laser-diodes. However, the emission bandwidth of laser diodes are limited by the design and gain of the material, leading to single emission bandwidths for a given diode design. Alternatively, spontaneous emission occurring from the optical gain of rare- earth ion (or transition metal ion) doped materials can emit over multiple wavelengths depending on the excitation wavelength and the rare-earth ion (or transition metal ion) used. [0005] The emission from dopant ions is dependent on the material host in which the ion is placed. For example, spontaneous emission is present for Ytterbium and Erbium ions doped in a silica matrix with optical emissions around l p.m and 1.55 mm, respectively, but optical emission from other energy levels can be suppressed by coupling to the host phonon states, For example, the 2,7 mm emission from Er is not present in a silica matrix, but can be observed in a fluoride based glass composition due to its lower phonon energy.

[0006] The optical transmission window of a glass is determined by the material composition of the gl ass. The short wa velength side of the glass transmission is limited by electronic absorption of the glass host while the long wavelength side is limited by multi-phonon absorption. Once the photon energy approaches about 4 times the phonon energy of the host, the light will be significantly absorbed,

[0007] Certain rare-earth ions can maintain energy levels spaced beyond the energy of a phonon even when placed inside a glass material matrix. However, the emission of light From an electron excited to the upper level on such ion can decay down without emission if the spacing is not significantly larger than the phonon energy, typically between 3 to 4 times the phonon energy. Therefore, the choice of glass host has a great impact on the emission efficiency for different ions. [0008] Superluminescent sources are distinct from most lasers, because they can simultaneously emit multiple wavelengths in a continuous fashion (not pulsing). One method by which this is accomplished is through the lack of optical feedback to the optical medium. The lack of optical feedback allows for a wide range of wavelengths to be emitted simultaneously with no preferential wavelength dominating and extracting the optical gain. In any system developed to incorporate the active optical medium, the ability to suppress back reflections from the active medium is a crucial step in maintaining broad emission. [0009] A silica based optical fiber is typically composed of a core and clad region, with each region being characterized by a refractive index. Typically, the refractive index of the core region is greater than the index of the cladding region, Other fiber architectures are known to those knowledgeable in the art. such as multiple cladding optical fibers (double clad fibers are one such example), photonic crystal fibers, and depressed cladding fibers

[0010] Typical fiber core dimensions are 1 to 50 mm, with cladding dimensions on the order of 1 to 1000 mm.

[0011] Typical silica glass composition contains at least 80 mole % of SiO 2 and can include the addition of P 2 O 5 , Al 2 O 3 and G e O 2 to include waveguide control and other functions. These additives are present in significantly lower concentrations typically on the order of 0 to 20 mole % [0012] Optical fiber fabrication is based on the fiber drawing of a preform with a given material composition. A common method for making a silica-glass based fiber preform is solution doping. This method involves the use of a solution to deliver ions (dopants) to a silica matrix. Unfortunately there is no direct control of the rare-earth ions molecular environment which may lead to detrimental optical effects in the fiber.

[0013] Solution Doping

[0014] More specifically, in silica fibers prepared by solution doping, salts of rare-earth ions such as neodymium ions (Nd + or Dysprosium ions (Dy + are dissolved in methanol together with aluminum (AI) chlorides. The solution is filtered and doped into the porous silica soot preform cores.

The use of an aluminum precursor is an excellent method to reduce rare-earth i on clustering (such as

Nd + ion clustering and Dy + ion clustering) and to help dissolve the rare-earth ion Into the silica latice, where the A I acts as a solvation shell. The AI concentration in the silica fiber may alsobe used to obtain refractive index control, as aluminum oxide has a relatively high refractive index. This however imposes limits to the concentration of AΪ that can be used in the fiber and maintain proper numerical aperture (“NA”) for single mode guidance, if that is needed

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0015] An embodiment of the invention includes an apparatus is for use, alone or in part, in a superfnminescent laser system. The apparatus includes an amplified spontaneous emission source, which in turn Includes an optical fiber. The optical fiber includes a solid core and a first end. The solid core includes a silica matrix. The silica matrix includes a rare-earth element and a glass co- dopant The rare-earth element includes dysprosium. The glass co-dopant includes Ahth. The apparatus further includes a laser pump diode coupled to the first end of the optical fiber. The laser pump diode and the optical fiber cooperate to generate a spontaneous spectral emission confined to the solid core. The spontaneous spectral emission includes a simultaneous plurality of spectral regions. The simultaneous plurality of spectral regions includes at least two of an about 470 to 505 nm spectral region, an about 545 to 625 M spectral region, an about 635 nm to 700 nm spectral region, an about 730 to 785 nm spectral region, an about 815 to 865 nm spectral region, and an about 880 to 895 nm spectral region,

[0016] An embodiment of the invention includes an apparatus is for use, alone or in part, in a superiuminescent laser system. The apparatus is for use, alone or in part, in a superluminescent laser system. The apparatus includes an amplified spontaneous emission source, which iu turn includes an optical fiber. The optical fiber includes a solid core and a first end. The solid core includes a silica matrix. The silica matrix includes a rare-earth element and a glass co-dopant The rare-earth element includes neodymium. The glass co-dopant includes Al 2 O 3 . The apparatus further includes a laser pump diode coupled to the first end of the optical fiber. The laser pomp diode and the optical fiber cooperate to generate a spontaneous spectral emission confined to the solid core. The spontaneous spectral emission includes a simultaneous plurality of spectral regions. The simultaneous: plurality of spectral regions includes at least two of an about 765 nm to 840 nm spectral region, an about 840 mn to 1000 nm spectra! region and an about 1000 to 1160 nm spectral region.

[0017] This invention describes a system and method for achieving supeiiuminescent light in the visible or near-infrared from a liber based light source. More specifically, we disclose a system and method tor achieving milliwatts (typically less than 50 raW) average power sources with spectra! emission spanning from 845 nm to 957 nm and simultaneously over 1030 to 1 1:20 urn and emission confined to the core of an optical fiber based on a N d-doped optical fiber. Another embodiment of the system, based on a Dy-doped optical fiber, provides multiple emissions in the visible band, spanning the following spectral regions: 470 to 505 mn, 545 to 625 mn, 63:5 nm to 700 nm, 730 to 785 mn, 8.15 to 865 nm and 880 to 895 nm. In both optical systems the emitted light is not coherent. Applications of such sources include excitation of ftuorophores in biological imaging, material characterization, light displays, illumination, and many others.

[0018] In an embodiment of the invention, the Superluminescent source allows for multiple wavelength emissions.

[0019] In an embodiment of the invention, the use of silica fiber allows for splicing to other silica fibers such as those common to laser pump diodes without introducing new interfaces and feedback.

[0020] in an embodiment of the invention, the wavelengths generated are not available with conventional Superluminescent diodes. [0021] In an embodiment of the in vention, the system can be all spliced increasing system reliability, mechanical and environmental stability.

[0022] In an embodiment of the invention, the architecture of the system allows for polarization maintaining and polarization independent emissions

[0023] In an embodiment of the in vention, the emi ssion is guided by an op tical liber that can be single transverse optical mode, increasing brightness.

[0024] In an embodiment of the invention, the output power can be scaled to higher powers,

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0025] FIG, 1 is a block diagram of a superluminescent laser system for Dy-doped silica fiber according to an embodi ment of the invention, this embodiment including a fiber-coupled isolator. [0026] FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a superluminescent laser system for Dy-doped silica fiber according to an embodiment of the invention, this embodiment including a fiber-coupled filter [0027] FIG. 3 Is a block diagram of a superluminescent laser system for Dy-doped silica fiber according to an embodiment of the invention, this embodiment including a fiber switch and a plurality of fiber-coupled filters.

[0028] FIG. 4 is an illustrative graph of superluminescen emission from a laser-diode- pumped Dy solution doped silica fiber according to an embodiment of the invention, the superluminescen emission including output from a laser diode pump as well as superluminescen generated in fiber and guided out of a laser system incorporating such fiber.

[0029] FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a superluminescent laser system for Nd-doped silica fiber according to an embodiment of the invention, this embodiment including a fiber-coupled isolator. [0030] FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a superluminescent laser system for Nd-doped silica fiber according to an embodiment of the invention, this embodiment including a fiber-coupled filter.

[0031 ] FIG, 7 is a block diagram of a superluminescent laser system for Nd-doped silica fiber according to an embodiment of the invention, this embodiment including a fiber switch and a plurality of fiber-coupled fi lters

[0032] FIG 8 is an illustrative graph of superluminescen emission from a laser-diode- pumped Nd solution doped silica fiber, the superluminescen emission including output from a laser diode pump as well as superluminescen generated in fiber and guided out of a laser system incorporating such fiber.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION [0033] An embodiment of the invention includes a superluminescent apparatus 10 and is described as follows, for example, with reference to FIGs. 1-4 The apparatus 10 is for use in a superluminescent laser system. The apparatus 10 includes an amplified spontaneous emission ("ASE") source 20, which in turn includes an ASE optical fiber 30, The ASE optical fiber includes a solid core 40 and a first end 50 The solid core 40 includes a silica matrix. The silica matrix includes a rare-earth element 60 and a glass eo-dopant 70. The rare-earth element includes standard dysprosium ("Dy") 80. The glass co-dopant includes standard Al 2 O 3 90. The apparatus 10 further includes a standard, fiber-coupled optical pump diode 100 coupled to the first end 50 of the ASE optical fiber 30. In a preferred embodiment, the standard, fiber-coupled optical pump diode 100 is directly coupled to the first end 50 of the ASE optical fiber 30 such that there is no interlace between the ASE optical fiber 30 and the optical pump diode 100, in such a preferred embodiment, the combination of the ASE optical fiber having a silica matrix and the direct coupling of the ASE optical fiber and the optical pump diode 100 provides ease of splicing, provides a mechanically stable connection, and/or: allows for a lower assembly cost than mechanically aligning the optical pump diode to the ASE optical fiber via an interface. The optical pump diode 100, for example, includes a standard laser pump diode. The optical pump diode 1.00 and the ASB optical fiber 30 cooperate to generate a spontaneous spectral emission confined to the solid core40. For the purpose of this paten t application, “spontaneous spectral emission,” and, equivalently, " superluminescen ," are terms of art and are defined as light, produced by spontaneous emission, that has been optically amplified by the process of stimulated emission in a gain medium. This light displays high spatial coherence, but low temporal coherence. The spontaneous spectral emission includes a simultaneous plurality of spectral regions. As sh own by way of representation in FIG 4, the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions includes at least two of an about 470 to 505 run spectral region, an about 545 to 625 nm spectral region, an about 635 nm to 700 nm spectral region, an about 730 to 785 nm spectra! region, an about 815 to 865 nm spectral region, and an about 880 to 895 nm spectral region. For the purpose of this patent application, the spectral regions for the Dy-doped silica fiber apparatus are defined to have an emission power per run that is 10 dB above the noise of the detector, meaning the po wer of ASE, i,e., the power at the detector with no signal is 10 dB. By this definition, at the detector, this power would be 10 x the noise equivalent power, the spontaneous emission power being about 10 pW per nm. One of ordinary skill in the art will readily recognize that defining the offset from the noise to the signal higher or lower will result in different spectral regions. For example, if the offset from the noise to the signal is 25 dB, then the spectral regions would be about 473 nm to 494 run, and about 555 nm to 603 nm, respectively, the spectral regions implying a power of about 3 n W per nm. [0034] Optionally, the rare-earth element 50 includes a dysprosium concentration and the glass co-dopant includes an Al 2 O 3 concentration:. A ratio of Al 2 O 3 Concentration to dysprosium concentration is between 5: 1 and 100:1. Optionally, the glass co-dopant 70 further includes P 2 O 3 95. The glass co-dopant 70 includes a P 2 O 3 concentration. A ratio of Al 2 O 3 concentration to P 2 O 3 concentration is between 0 and 0.8.

[0035] Optionally, the optical pomp diode 100 includes a center emission between 400 nm and 500 nm in wavelength and includes a power between 5 mW and 500 mW. Optionally, the ASE optical fiber 30 includes a second end 110. The apparatus further includes a standard fiber-coupled optical isolator 120 connected to the second end of tire ASE optical fiber 30, as shown by way of example in FIG, 1. For example, the isolator 120 is connected to a standard output optical fiber 130. Alternatively, as shown by way of example in FIG. 2. the ASE optical fiber 30 includes a second end 110. The apparatus 10 further includes a standard fiber-coupled filler 140 connected to the second end 1.10 of the ASE optical fiber 30 and passing a respective spectral region from the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions. Still further alternatively, as shown by way of example in FIG 3, the optical fiber includes a second end 110, The apparatus further includes a plurality of standard fiber- coupled filters .150 connected to the second end 110 of the ASE optical fiber and passing a plurality of respective spectral regions from the simultaneous plural ity of spectral regions. The · apparatus 10 further includes a standard fiber switch 160 located between the ASE optical fiber 30and the plurality of fiber-coupled filters ISO, The fiber switch 160 and the plurality of fiber-coupled filters 150 cooperate to select for output from among the plurality of respective spectral regions.

[0036] Optionally, the apparatus further includes a standard intensity modulator 170 communicating with file laser pump diode thereby temporally modulating the optical pump diode 100. [0037] Optionally, the ASE optical fiber 30 includes a standard polarization-maintaining optical fiber.

[0038] Optionally , the optical fiber is prepared by a process. The process includes fabricating the silica matrix by standard solution doping, using dysprosium ions (Dy + ). The dysprosium ions include a dysprosium ion concentration between about 0.5 ´ 10 2 m -3 and 0 ´ 10 2 m -3 . In “solution doping” to create a rare-earth-doped-core silica fiber 30, a salt of rare earth ions (in this case, Dy3+) is dispersed in methanol along with a salt of aluminum, (such as aluminum chloride which will form Al 2 O 3 , when the fiber has been completed). This multicomponent solution is infused into the core of the fiber to make a rare-earth-doped-core fiber 3(1

[0039] An embodiment of the invention includes a superluminescent apparatus 10 and Is described as follows with reference to FIGs, 5-8, The apparatus 10 is for use in a superluminescent laser system. The apparatus 1.0 includes an amplified spontaneous emission source 20, which in turn includes an ASE optical fiber 30. The ASE optical fiber 30 Includes a solid core 40 and a first end

50. The solid core 40 includes a silica matrix . The silica matrix includes a rare-earth element 60 and a glass co-dopant 70, The rare-earth element 60 includes neodymium ("Nd" 85. The glass co-dopant

70 Includes Al 2 O 3 90. The apparatus 10 further Includes a standard, fiber-coupled, optical pump diode

100 coupled to the first end 50 of the ASE optical fiber 30. The optical pump diode 100 and the ASE optical fiber 30 cooperate to generate a spontaneous spectral emission confined to the solid core. For the purpose of this patent application, “spontaneous spectral emission,” and “ superluminescen ,” are terms of art and are defined as light, produced by spontaneous emission, that has been optically amplified by the process of stimulated emission in a gain medium. This light displays high spatial coherence, but low temporal coherence. The spontaneous spectral emission includes a simultaneous plurality of spectra! regions. As shown by way of representation in FIG, 8, the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions includes at least two of an about 765 nm to 840 nm spectral region, an about 840 nm to 1000 nm spectral region and an about 1000 to 1160 nm. spectral region. For the purpose of this patent application, the spectral regions for the Nd-doped silica liber apparatus are defined to have an emission power per nm that is 10 dB above the noise of the detector, meaning the power of ASE, i,e., the power at the detector with no signal is 10 dB. By this definition, at the detector, this power would be 10 x the noise equivalent power, the spontaneous emission power being about 10 pW per nm. One of ordinary skill in the art will readily recognize that defining the offset from the noise to the signal higher or lower will result in different spectral regions. For example, if the offset from the noise to the signal is 25 dB, then the spectral regions would be about 810- 820 nm, about 857- 975 nm, and about 1015 -1135 nm, respectively, the spectral regions implying a power of about 3 nW per nm.

[0040] Optionally, the rare-earth element 60 includes a neodymium concentration, and the glass co-dopant 90 includes an AJ2O3 concentration. A ratio of Al 2 O 3 concentration to neodymium concentration is between 20:1 and 100:1. The glass co-dopant 90 further includes P 2 O 3 . The glass co-dopant 90 includes a P 2 O 3 concentration. A ratio of Al 2 O 3 concentration to P 2 O 3 concentration is between 0 and 0.8.

[0041] Optionally, the optical pump diode 100 includes a center emission between 400 nm and 500 nm in wavelength and Includes a power between.5 ntW and 500 mW. Optionally, the ASE optical fiber 30 includes a second end 110. The apparatus 10 further includes a standard, fiber- coupled optical isolator 120 connected to the second end 110 of the ASE optical fiber 30, as shown by way of example in FIG, 5. Alternatively, as shown by way of example in FIG. 6 the ASE optical fiber 30 includes a second end 110. The apparatus 10 further includes a standard fiber-coupled filter 140 connected to tire second end 110 of the ASE optical fiber 30 and passing a respective spectral region from the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions. Alternatively still, as shown by way of example in PIG 7 the ASE optical fiber 30 includes a second end 1.10. The apparatus 10 further includes a plurality of fiber-coupled fitters ISO connected to the second end 110 of the ASE optical fiber 30 and passing a plurality of respective spectral regions from the simultaneous plurality of spectral regions. The apparatus 10 further includes a standard fiber switch 160 located between the ASE optical fiber 30 and the plurality of fiber-coupled filters .150, The fiber switch 160 and the plurality of fiber-coupled filters 150 cooperate to select for output from among tire plurality of respective spectral regions,

[0042] Optionally, the apparatus further includes a standard intensity modulator 170 communicating with the optical pump diode 100 thereby temporally modulating the laser pump diode. [0043] Optionally, the ASE optical fiber 30 includes a polamafion-maintaining optical fiber.

[0044] Optionally, the ASE optical fiber 30 is prepared by a process including fabricating the silica matrix by solution doping using neodymium Ions (Nd + ), the neodymium ions including a neodymium ion concentration between 0,1 * 10 2 -' in'* and 10 10" 5 rrr\ In “solution doping” to create a rate-eaith-doped-eore silica fiber 30, a salt of rare earth ions (in this ease, Nd3+) is dispersed in methanol along with a salt of aluminum, (such as aluminum chloride which will form AhOy when the fiber has been completed). This multicomponent solution is infused into the core of the fiber to make a rare-earih-doped-core fiber 30.

[0045] Another embodiment of the invention is described as follows, with reference by way of illustration to FIOs. 1-4, A silica-based optical fiber 30 is fabricated having a solid core region 40 doped with Dy ions, The Dy ions are incorporated into the silica matrix of the solid core region 40 through a standard solution-based method. The ion concentration has to remain between about 0.5 x 10 25 m -3 and 10 c 10 25 m -3 as increasing the concentration of Dy ions leads to clustering of the Dy ions and quenching of the energy levels. To reduce the clustering of Dy ions, the Dy ions are .incorporated in the silica matrix in a high concentration of Al 2 O 3 , typically on the order of 5:1 to 100:1 times the concentration ofDy, The Al 2 O 3 greatly increases the solubility of the rare earth, in the silica matrix. The addition of Dy ions without the presence of either Al 2 O 3 or P 2 O 3 leads to clustering and no signiticant emission. However, the addition of Ai or P to the silica composition hasa direct impact on the refractive index, and can present a significant challenge to maintaining a gi ven refractive index contrast between the core and the cladding.

[0046] The fabricated fiber 30 has a solid core 40 with a larger refractive index than the cladding, leading to light guidance within the core. Preferably, the refractive index of the fiber 30 is such that single inode operation at the relevant emission bands of 470 to 505 nm, 545 nm to 625 mn, 635 Jim to 700 tan, 730 to 785 nm, 815 to 865 nra and 880 to 895 nrn occurs. The system is composed of a fiber coupled optical diode with emission centered between 400 and 500 nra, preferably between 440 iiffl and 460 nm, with light emission carried by the core of the fiber. The fiber coupled optical diode is optically spliced to one side of the Dy doped fiber, and the Dy doped fiber is angle cleaved on the other side to reduce back reflections. Typical angles for the angle cleave ate between 4 and 45 degrees, more preferably between 6 and 15 degrees, Alternatively, the fiber can be spliced to a fiber coupled optical isolator.

[0047] The power of the fiber-coupled optical pump diode 100 is between 10 mW and 100

W, more typically between 10 mW and 500 mW The fiber 30 is typically single mode at the pump wavelength but can also be multimode

[0048] The Dy doped optical fiber can be polarization maintaining.

[0049] The use of a silica glass fiber matrix as a base for the Dy dopant ensures that a strong mechanical bond can be accomplished with the fiber coupled pump diode. It also allows for a critical feature required for a spontaneous emission source, specifically a negligible refractive index mismatch between both the pump optical fiber and the doped silica fiber. The refractive index difference can remain be low 004 between the fibers, insuring that no significant feedback wi ll occ ur at the splice interface and therefore no particular emission wavelength will be selected. This allows for both the increase of the emission bandwidth but also the optical power of the amplified spontaneous emission source.

[0(150] Another embodiment of the invention is described as follows, with reference by way of illustration to Fids. 5-8. In this embodiment of the invention, the silica glass matrix is doped with Nd ions tor the formation of a super! uminesceuoe source emitting between 845 nm to 957 run and simultaneously over 1030 to 1120 nrn. In the case of Nd, the Ion concentration must remain between 0.1 ´ 10 2 m -3 and 10 ´ 10 2 m -3 to ensure sufficient absorption of the pump light while avoiding concentration induced quenching. To reduce the clustering of Nd tons, the Nd ions are incorporated in the silica matrix along with a high concentration of AbOs, typically on the order of 20:1 to 100:1 times the concentration of Nd. The optical pump wavelength for the Nd case is typically between 780 nm and 840 am, more typically between 800 and 815 am.

[0051] The use of silica fiber as a host for the rare earth ions of interest instead of other glass materials such as germanate based glasses or fluoride based glasses allows for direct .fusion splicing with silica based fibers and with no significant interlace, leading to no feedback from the splice. [0(152] Example 1 :

[0053] An embodiment of the invention includes a superluraineseent source based on Dy- doped silica fiber and includes emission covering multiple simultaneous bauds as shown in by way of representation m FIG, 4. The apparatus 10 is composed of a fiber coupled laser diode 100 with center emission at 450 nm wavelength, which is coupled to a 100 mm diameter core fiber with 125 pra diameter cladding. The laser diode fiber is, for example, fusion spliced to a double clad Dy solution doped liber with core diameter 25 mm and cladding of 125 mm diameter. The numerical aperture of the Dy-doped fiber is, for example, 022 for the core, determined by the aluminum concentration with a 1 st dad numerical aperture of 0,45, The preform is doped with a solution of 0,377 M Aluminum and 0,047 M Dysprosium for a Al:Py ratio of 8:1. The total power emitted outside the laser diode band is less than 5 niW. The Dy-fiber is angle cleaved at 8 degrees to reduce feedback from the end face and suppress lasing.

[0054] Example 2:

[0055] Another embodiment of the invention is similar that described in Example 1, except wherein a standard fiber-coupled optical isolator 120 is spliced to the output of the Dy fiber, and. the pump can be temporally modulated up to 1 kHz frequency. This apparatus includes two additional features: ability to synchronize the emission with an external trigger, and optical isolation of the emission from external feedback allowing for direct splicing of the superluminescen source to another optical fiber.

[0057] Another embodiment of the invention includes a superluminescent source based on

Nd-doped silica fiber is demonstrated with emission covering multiple simultaneous bands as shown by way of representation in FIG, 8. The apparatus includes a single mode fiber-coupled laser diode with center emission at 808 nm wavelength, which is coupled to a 5 mm diameter core fiber with 125 mm diameter cladding. In this embod iment the laser diode fiber coupled to the Nd-doped fiber through the use of a standard wavelength division multiplexer liber combiner. The liber-coupled laser diode is, for example, fusion spliced to one port of the wavelength division multiplexer fiber combiner and a single clad Nd solution doped fiber with core diameter 8.8 mm and cladding of 125 mm diameter is spliced to the output port of the combiner. The second port of the combiner is, for example, angle- cleaved to reduce feedback. The numerical aperture of the Nd-doped fiber is, for example, 0.07 for the core. The preform is doped with a 0.061 g Nd chloride, and 2.93 g Al chloride in 200 ml methanol, for a Al:Nd ratio of 90:1. The total power emitted outside the laser diode band is less than 5 mW. The Nil-fiber is, for example, angle-cleaved at ~ 8 degrees to reduce feedback from the end face and suppress lasing.

[0(158] The rare-earth doped fiber is, for example, made to propagate a single mode for one or multiple of the emission bands,

[0059] The apparatus is, for example, polarization-maintaining with the Output linearly polarized along a single polarization axis.

[0060] Individual bands are, for example, filtered by a fiber-coupled filter 140 so that the emission is restricted to a narrower band,

[0061] A standard fiber switch 160 is, for example, included between the emission and a sequence of filters to allow selection of different emission ranges, such as shown in FIGs. 3 and 7. [0062] The apparatus is, for example, externally electronically modulated by direct modulation of the laser pump or through the addi tion of a standard intensity modulator 170.

[0063 ] Although a particular feature of the disclosure may have been illustrated and/or described with respect to only one of several implementations, such feature may he combined with one or more other features of the other implementations as may be desired and advantageous for any given or particular application. Also, to the extent that the terms ’’including", "includes", "having", "has", "with", or variants thereof are used in the detailed description and/or in the claims, such terms are intended to be inclusive in a manner similar to the term ’'comprising".

[0064] As used herein, the singular forms “a", “an,” and “the” do not preclude plural referents, unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. [0065] As used herein, the term “and/or” includes any and all combinations of one or more of the associated listed items.

[0066] As used herein, the term “about” when used in conjunction with a slated numerical value or range denotes somewhat more or somewhat less than the stated value or range, to within a range of ±10% of that stated.

[0067] All documents mentioned herein are hereby incorporated by reference for the purpose of disclosing and describing the particular materials and methodologies for which the document was cited,

[0068] Although the present invention has been described in connection with preferred embodiments thereof, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that additions, deletions, modifications, and substitutions not specifically described may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Terminology used herein should not be construed as being “means- plus-function” language unless the term "means" is expressly used in association therewith.

[0069] This written description sets forth the best mode of the invention and provides examples to describe the invention and to enable a person of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention. This written description does not limit the invention to the precise terms set forth. Thus, while the invention has been described in detail with reference to the examples set forth above, those of ordinary skill in the art may effect alterations, modifications and variations to the examples without departing front the scope of the invention.

[0070] These and other implementations are within the scope of the following claims.