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Optical Modulators

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Ask RP Photonics for advice concerning various types of optical modulators and their applications.

Definition: devices allowing one to manipulate properties of light beams, such as the optical power or phase

German: optische Modulatoren

Categories: lightwave communications, photonic devices

How to cite the article

An optical modulator is a device which can be used for manipulating a property of light – often of an optical beam, e.g. a laser beam. Depending on which property of light is controlled, modulators are called intensity modulators, phase modulators, polarization modulators, spatial light modulators, etc. A wide range of optical modulators are used in very different application areas, such as in optical fiber communications, displays, for active Q switching or mode locking of lasers, and in optical metrology.

Types of Optical Modulators

There are very different kinds of optical modulators:

Bulk-optical modulators, e.g. of the electro-optic type, can be used with large beam areas, and handle correspondingly large optical powers. On the other hand, there are fiber-coupled modulators, often realized as a waveguide modulator with fiber pigtails, which can easily be integrated into fiber-optic systems.

See also: acousto-optic modulators, electro-optic modulators, electroabsorption modulators, phase modulators

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self-focusing in a fiber

Intensity distribution in a fiber at megawatt power levels. The Kerr nonlinearity destabilizes the initially launched LP11 mode.

This diagram has been made with the RP Fiber Power software.

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