ThermOptics Corporation designs, manufactures, and markets specialized components that are incorporated in various thermal management solutions for optical component, sub-system, and communication system manufacturers. Optical products from tunable lasers, amplifiers, and attentuators, to optical cross-connect switches, are experiencing the thermal effects of high frequency transmissions imposed upon their products, and are seeking solutions to mitigate such effects and/or stabilize the performance and reliability of their components’ thermal surroundings. ThermOptics’ three lines of products (proportionally controlled heaters, thermoelectric cooler controllers, and optical power monitors) are implemented together or separately in such solutions designed to shape or move light in a highly reliable and controlled manner, allowing the suppliers’ optical products to meet their performance and reliability specifications.
One prevailing application that incorporates ThermOptics’ products is the feedback control mechanism utilizing optical power management in the shaping of light, whether it be in amplification in an erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA) or in attenuation utilizing a variable optical attenuator (VOA). Feedback control is becoming paramount for such components due to the non-linearity of output power relative to input power at higher frequencies. As more wavelengths are compacted into a single fiber element, the spacing between adjacent wavelengths becomes much closer, which in turn requires more stable wavelengths and power outputs. The line of optical power monitors and current-to-voltage converters along with some signal conditioning can allow a designer a means to acquire important feedback information and to make adjustments to maintain wavelength integrity.
Similar feedback control mechanisms are also used to fine-tune tunable distributed feedback (DFB) lasers for long term stability of output power and frequency accuracy. The DFB laser is an edge-emitting laser and it is tuned by the changing of temperature maintained by the thermoelectric cooler. To properly monitor the output power of these lasers and to control the necessary temperature changes in the cooler, products from ThermOptics’ optical power monitor and thermoelectric cooler product lines are implemented into the feedback design. This laser closely resembles lasers used as fixed wavelength transmission sources (which are temperature-tuned to reach their desired fixed wavelength). The main benefit of these laser feedback solutions include compactness, cost-effectiveness, and high power output for long transmission distances.
Laser diodes used for WDM systems (CWDM or DWDM) are predominantly distributed-feedback (DFB) chips. The structure and materials used to make the chips cause the output wavelength of a laser diode to change as the temperature changes. In practice, the typical wavelength change of a DFB chip is 0.08 nm/Celcius. In DWDM systems, most suppliers incorporate packaging techniques, such as butterfly housings with thermoelectric coolers in conjunction with ThermOptics line of thermoelectric cooler controllers to prevent the wavelength from drifting.
Another important and soon to be very prevalent application requiring high quality and reliable thermal management solutions is in the area of moving light, most specifically in the developments of optical cross-connect switch fabrics. In the example of arrayed waveguide gratings (AWGs), certain manufacturers use temperature to heat or cool their waveguides to either separate light being transmitted, or to move light from one waveguide to another, essentially switching the signal. As such, ThermOptics line of heaters and thermoelectric cooler controllers assist in the maintenance of heating or cooling the waveguide, while the line of power monitors are implemented to monitor the signal strength levels which will then help determine appropriate levels of gain to be applied. As this industry begins to mature, more applications will come to bear, including more thermo-optic effects and challenges, which will require more thermal management solutions.
ThermOptics was founded in March 1989, under the original name of Dawn Electronics, Inc. The company was established to design and manufacture high quality, temperature-controlled, subminiature electronic components targeted at R.F. and microwave systems, as well as electronic instrumentation. With the recent significant increase in customer demand from the explosive fiber optic component and sub-system industry, the company changed its name to reflect the focus and attention towards solving the unknown thermal effects experienced by the design and implementation of this industry’s products in optical communication systems.
The company has internally funded and developed over 20 products since its inception, and has developed a loyal customer base throughout the world. The management of ThermOptics has over 40 years experience in analog design, manufacturing, marketing, and sales in the electronics industry. The company will continue to provide excellent technical support and service, on which its reputation has been built over the past decade, towards the explosive optical component industry.