Asee peer logo

Effective Utilization Of Optical Spectrum Analyzers For Enrichment Of Undergraduate Photonics Laboratory Courses

Download Paper |


1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.174.1 - 1.174.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Thompson Lewis

author page

Samuel Agbo

author page

Michael Wollman

author page

Michael Fukatsu

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1626


Samuel Agbo, Michael Wollman, Michael Fukatsu, Thompson Lewis California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo


The optical spectrum anlilyzers which we recently added to our photonics laboratory, thanks to an NSF ILI grant, has enabled us to introduce four new experiments into our two undergraduate laborato~ courses: Fiber Optics Laborato~ and Photonics Engineering Laboratory. The new experiments are (1) Spectral Attenuation of Optical Fibers, (2) Optical Wavelength Spectral Analysis of Laser Sources and Light-emitting Diodes, (3) Dynamic Narrowing of Linewidth and Changes in Modal Structure of Laser Diodes in the Vicinity of the Threshold Current, and (4) Spectral Responsivity of PIN Photodiodes. We have also prepared a video to demonstrate the dynamic changes in laser diode spectra as the drive currents are changed.

We have effectively utilized the LabVIEW graphical programming environment to implement computer control of the experiments over a GPIB interface. This enhances the speed of data collectio~ and the sophistication of data processing in these experiments. Such computer control of the experiments is very helpfil in the dynamic measurements entailed in the experiments. This paper discusses the new experiments, their enriching effect on the courses, and their stimulating and motivating effect on the students.


Photonics is a well established component of our electrical engineering program. About 105 students take the two undergraduate laboratory courses offered in our photonics laboratory annually. Our 1992 NSF ILI grant offered us the great opportunity of enriching these laboratory courses by adding one optical spectrum analyzer (OSA) to each of three work stations in our photonics laboratory. Our experience points to the unique importance of the QSA in a photonics laboratory and its role in stimulating learning in electro-optics as the only real-time, graphic display instrument in the optical frequency/wavelength range.

Our OSA employs a double-pass monochromator which provides a high dynamic range (-55 dBm at 0.5 nrn from the signal peak) and high sensitivity (better than -85 dBm). It can display the optical spectrum over the wavelength range of 350 nm to 2000 nm. This range includes visible light and the region relevant to fiber optic communications. However, for calibrated display, the range is 600 nm to 1700 nm. It is capable of sweeping the fill wavelength range in 500 ms, thus saving hours in measurement time, compared to experimental arrangements which do not employ OSAs. The OSA can save data in many ways. In addition to being displayed, the experimental results can be sent directly to a plotter or printer, stored in the OSA memory, or can otherwise be accessed via computer control.

.$iiii’ ‘O,$!p;: ) 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings . . ‘9

Lewis, T., & Agbo, S., & Wollman, M., & Fukatsu, M. (1996, June), Effective Utilization Of Optical Spectrum Analyzers For Enrichment Of Undergraduate Photonics Laboratory Courses Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. 10.18260/1-2--6005

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 1996 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015