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Raman Amplifiers

Definition: optical amplifiers based on Raman gain

German: Raman-Verstärker

Categories: fiber optics and waveguides, nonlinear optics, optical amplifiers, lightwave communications

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A Raman amplifier is an optical amplifier based on Raman gain, which results from the effect of stimulated Raman scattering. The Raman-active medium is often an optical fiber, although it can also be a bulk crystal, a waveguide in a photonic integrated circuit, or a cell with a gas or liquid medium. An input signal can be amplified while co- or counterpropagating with a pump beam, the wavelength of which is typically a few tens of nanometers shorter. For silica fibers, maximum gain is obtained for a frequency offset of ≈ 10–15 THz between pump and signal, depending on the composition of the fiber core.

For application in telecom systems, fiber Raman amplifiers compete with erbium-doped fiber amplifiers. Compared with those, their typical features are:

A telecom Raman amplifier is pumped with continuous-wave light from a diode laser. Efficient amplification of ultrashort pulses is also possible using copropagating pump pulses. However, the phenomenon of group velocity mismatch then severely limits the useful interaction length, particularly for pulse durations below 1 ps.

Fibers used for Raman amplifiers are not doped with rare earth ions. In principle, any ordinary single-mode fiber could be used, and in practice the transmission fibers themselves are often suitable (→ distributed amplifiers). However, there are special fibers with increased Raman gain, resulting from certain dopants (e.g. germania) for enhanced Raman cross sections, or simply from a small effective mode area. Such fibers are used for lumped Raman amplifiers, where a shorter piece of fiber is dedicated to amplification only.


The RP Photonics Buyer's Guide contains 12 suppliers for Raman amplifiers.


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[7]V. E. Perlin and H. G. Winful, “On distributed Raman amplification for ultrabroad-band long-haul WDM systems”, J. Lightwave Technol. 20 (3), 409 (2002)
[8]M. N. Islam, “Raman amplifiers for telecommunications”, J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 8 (3), 548 (2002), doi:10.1109/JSTQE.2002.1016358
[9]O. Boyraz and B. Jalali, “Demonstration of 11 dB fiber-to-fiber gain in a silicon Raman amplifier”, IEICE Elect. Expr. 1, 429 (2004), doi:10.1587/elex.1.429
[10]B. Jalali et al., “Raman-based silicon photonics”, J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 12 (3), 412 (2006), doi:10.1109/JSTQE.2006.872708
[11]Y. Feng et al., “Multiwatts narrow linewidth fiber Raman amplifiers”, Opt. Express 16 (15), 10927 (2008), doi:10.1364/OE.16.010927
[12]J. Ji et al., “Analysis of the conversion to the first Stokes in cladding-pumped fiber Raman amplifiers”, IEEE Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 15 (1), 129 (2009), doi:10.1109/JSTQE.2008.2010229
[13]A. K. Sridharan et al., “Brightness enhancement in a high-peak-power cladding-pumped Raman fiber amplifier”, Opt. Lett. 34 (14), 2234 (2009), doi:10.1364/OL.34.002234
[14]G. P. Agrawal, Nonlinear Fiber Optics, 4th edn., Academic Press, New York (2007)
[15]ITU standard G.665 (01/05), “Generic characteristics of Raman amplifiers and Raman amplified subsystems”, International Telecommunication Union (2005)

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See also: Raman scattering, Raman lasers, Raman gain, optical amplifiers, distributed amplifiers, fiber amplifiers, fibers, nonlinearities, noise figure
and other articles in the categories fiber optics and waveguides, nonlinear optics, optical amplifiers, lightwave communications


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