A semiconductor optical amplifiers work similarly to a laser. The structure is almost the same as two particularly produced pieces of semiconductor material on top of each other, with another material in between them forming the “active layer”. An electrical current is set running through the pattern in order to excite electrons, which can then fall back to the non-excited area event and give out photons.
A semiconductor optical amplifier is an optical amplifier based on a semiconductor gain medium. It is essentially the same as a laser diode where the end mirrors have been displaced with anti-reflection coatings, a turned waveguide can be used to further reduce the end reflectivities.
There are some key parameters to select the right semiconductor amplifier are Gain, Gain Bandwidth, Saturation, Noise, Polarization Dependent Gain.
Gain is the factor by which the input signals are amplified and are estimated as the ratio of output power to input power in dB. A Higher Gain results are in higher output optical signal.
Gain Bandwidth defines the range of bandwidth where is the amplification functions. Huge gain bandwidth is desirable to amplify a broad range of signal wavelengths.
Saturation is important that the SOA has a high power saturation level to remain in the linear working region and to have a higher dynamic range.
Noise defines the undesired signal within the signal bandwidth which results due to physical processing in the amplifier.
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