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A short discussion on 980nm and 1480nm pump based Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifiers (EDFA)


The 980nm pump needs three energy level for radiation while 1480nm pumps can excite the ions directly to the metastable level .


(a) Energy level scheme of ground and first two excited states of Er ions in a silica matrix. The sublevel splitting and the lengths of arrows representing absorption and emission transitions are not drawn to scale. In the case of the 4 I11/2 state, s is the lifetime for nonradiative decay to the I13/2 first excited state and ssp is the spontaneous lifetime of the 4 I13/2 first excited state. (b) Absorption coefficient, a, and emission coefficient, g*, spectra for a typical aluminum co-doped EDF.

.The most important feature of the level scheme is that the transition energy between the I15/2 ground state and the I13/2 first excited state corresponds to photon wavelengths (approximately 1530 to 1560 nm) for which the attenuation in silica fibers is lowest. Amplification is achieved by creating an inversion by pumping atoms into the first excited state, typically using either 980 nm or 1480 nm diode lasers. Because of the superior noise figure they provide and their superior wall plug efficiency, most EDFAs are built using 980 nm pump diodes. 1480 nm pump diodes are still often used in L-band EDFAs although here, too, 980 nm pumps are becoming more widely used.


Though pumping with 1480 nm is used and has an optical power conversion efficiency which is higher than that for 980 nm pumping, the latter is preferred because of the following advantages it has over 1480 nm pumping.

  • It provides a wider separation between the laser wavelength and pump wavelength.
  • 980 nm pumping gives less noise than 1480nm.
  • Unlike 1480 nm pumping, 980 nm pumping cannot stimulate back transition to the ground state.
  • 980 nm pumping also gives a higher signal gain, the maximum gain coefficient being 11 dB/mW against 6.3 dB/mW for the 1.48 
  • The reason for better performance of 980 nm pumping over the 1.48 m pumping is related to the fact that the former has a narrower absorption spectrum.
  • The inversion factor almost becomes 1 in case of 980 nm pumping whereas for 1480 nm pumping the best one gets is about 1.6.
  • Quantum mechanics puts a lower limit of 3 dB to the optical noise figure at high optical gain. 980 nm pimping provides a value of 3.1 dB, close to the quantum limit whereas 1.48  pumping gives a value of 4.2 dB.
  • 1480nm pump needs more electrical power compare to 980nm.



The 980 nm pumps EDFA’s are widely used in terrestrial systems while 1480nm pumps are used as Remote Optically Pumped Amplifiers (ROPA) in subsea links where it is difficult to put amplifiers.For submarine systems, remote pumping can be used in order not to have to electrically feed the amplifiers and remove electronic parts.Nowadays ,this is used in pumping up to 200km.

The erbium-doped fiber can be activated by a pump wavelength of 980 or 1480 nm but only the second one is used in repeaterless systems due to the lower fiber loss at 1.48 mm with respect to the loss at 0.98 mm. This allows the distance between the terminal and the remote amplifier to be increased.

In a typical configuration, the ROPA is comprised of a simple short length of erbium doped fiber in the transmission line placed a few tens of kilometers before a shore terminal or a conventional in-line EDFA. The remote EDF is backward pumped by a 1480 nm laser, from the terminal or in-line EDFA, thus providing signal gain



Following are the vendors that manufactures 980nm and 1480nm EDFAs


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