Nozaki-Bekki Holes in a Long Laser

Amy Roche
Université Côte d'Azur, INPHYNI, CNRS, 1361 route des lucioles, 06560 Valbonne, France
Long cavity fiber-based swept source lasers are promising devices with a wide range of potential applications ranging from communications to life sciences. For example, Fourier Domain Mode-Locked (FDML) lasers, which are commonly used for Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) imaging applications, are long cavity lasers incorporating an intra-cavity resonator which is driven in resonance with the cavity round trip time. The coherence properties of such swept sources are of major importance as they define the image quality. The purpose of this work is to analyze the mechanism that deteriorates the coherence of long lasers. In our experiment, the laser included a 100nm wide semiconductor optical amplifier at 1310nm and a fiber cavity that could vary from 20m to 20km. The laser emission wavelength was controlled using a fiber based intra-cavity filter with a bandwidth of 10GHz. Near the lasing threshold and/or for fast carrier decay rate, we observed the appearance of periodic power dropouts with stable Nozaki-Bekki holes (NBH) that circulate in the laser cavity. As a function of the injection current, the laser could operate in various regimes including bi-stability between NBH and stable (cw) operation, unstable NBH or chaotic operation. Such behavior indicates that the interplay between the injection current and carrier decay rate can lead to highly coherent emission of a long cavity laser.