Switching and generation of ultrashort pulses using all-fibre devices
Serial and parallel interconnection of photonic devices is integral to the construction of any all-optical data processing system. This thesis presents results from a series of experiments centering on the use of the nonlinear-optical loop mirror (NOLM) switch in architectures for the manipulation and generation of ultrashort pulses. Detailed analysis of soliton switching in a single NOLM and cascade of two NOLM's is performed, centering on primary limitations to device operation, effect of cascading on amplitude response, and impact of switching on the characteristics of incident pulses. By using relatively long input pulses, device failure due to stimulated Raman generation is postponed to demonstrate multiple-peaked switching for the first time. It is found that while cascading leads to a sharpening of the overall switching characteristic, pulse spectral and temporal integrity is not significantly degraded, and emerging pulses retain their essential soliton character. In addition, by including an asymmetrically placed in-fibre Bragg reflector as a wavelength selective loss element in the basic NOLM configuration, both soliton self-switching and dual-wavelength control-pulse switching are spectrally quantised. Results are presented from a novel dual-wavelength laser configuration generating pulse trains with an ultra-low rms inter-pulse-stream timing jitter level of 630fs enabling application in ultrafast switching environments at data rates as high as 130GBits/s.