Illinois ECE graduate student Guanyi Pan recently received the runner-up award for best poster by a first year or second year graduate student at the SPIE Workshop on Specialty Optical Fiber (WSOF). Pan's poster was entitled "Spectroscopic properties of highly erbium doped fluorosilicate fiber."
Pan's work focuses on a new type of erbium doped fiber which forms the backbone for amplifiers used in long-haul optical communication systems. However, erbium is a relatively weak laser material and very little of it can be dissolved into the glass comprising the fiber. Consequently, conventional erbium doped fiber amplifiers use very long fiber lengths which lead to a wide range of parasitic characteristics.
Pan's work is on glasses that are allowed to have much higher ebrium doping concentrations, thereby helping to solve problems intrinsic to its low-strength spectroscopic properties.
Her work was funded by the High Energy Joint Transition Office (HE-JTO) and the Office of Naval Research. This award was sponsored by SPIE.
"Guanyi is a tremendously talented student who has taken on an extremely difficult project. It's one thing to show the existence of a glass fiber with a high erbium concentration, but it's an entirely different problem to prove that it works well in an amplifier configuration," said Illinois ECE Professor Peter D Dragic. "This requires careful characterization of upper state lifetimes, and emission and absorption spectra. Beyond that the fiber has to be integrated into a system, which brings its own challenges."
"This fiber, being heavily doped, required fiber lengths of only a few centimeters to be used in her apparatus, as opposed to the tens of meters typically found in an erbium doped fiber amplifier. If this wasn't enough, these first prototype fibers were few-moded, introducing yet another degree of complexity in understanding how the fiber functions. Guanyi was able to work through these numerous obstacles and achieve something nobody has been able to do before."