The University of Southampton

OPTO6009 Optical Fibre Technology II

Module Overview

Active optical fibres, including lasers and amplifiers, form a central part of optical fibre technologies today. This module will cover this important area of optical fibre technology covering the fundamental aspects of active fibre technologies including optical fibre amplifiers and the basics of fibre lasers. This module will give a clear understanding of the operating principles of fibre lasers and amplifiers both in the linear and nonlinear regimes. It will make use of the initial description of passive fibres given in OPTO6008, and combine this with understanding of the basic properties of laser materials to give a firm grounding in active and nonlinear fibre optics. The skills and knowledge acquired during this course will form the foundation for much of the material taught in the Semester 2 courses, and for the final projects in Semester 3 of the MSc programme.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this module is to introduce the principles of operation and design of fibre amplifiers and the most common types of fibre lasers. Students will learn the basics of the interaction of light (photons) with matter in the context of absorption and the generation of light via spontaneous and stimulated emission. They will also learn the key concepts of how these transitions relate to the operation of optical fibre lasers and amplifiers. The nonlinear interactions induced by propagating optical beams in an optical fibre will be outlined together with an introduction to the relevant background theory. A detailed overview on various types of linear and nonlinear amplifiers, including their transient dynamics, will also be taught.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Understand the fundamentals of optical fibre lasers and amplifiers
  • Comprehend the spectroscopic properties of rare earth ions in a variety of host materials defining the choice of pump wavelengths and gain bandwidths
  • Understand the transient dynamics of fibre lasers and the generation of short optical pulses
  • Comprehend the nonlinear effects in optical fibres and their applications in variety of fields including optical communications
  • Perform quantitative calculations on the properties of fibre lasers and amplifiers (e.g. threshold power, gain, noise figure and a range of output parameters related with their performance)
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Conceptualise the phenomenon of optical gain and how to tailor and control it in optical fibres
  • Be able to assess the suitability of different types of optical fibre amplifiers for particular wavelength regions and applications
  • Predict specific properties of optical fibre amplifiers, and continuous wave (CW) and pulsed fibre lasers based on the knowledge of their design parameters and the materials and components used to form them
  • Understand the concepts of linear and non-linear optical amplification in optical fibres
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Use a variety of information sources (lectures, web, journals) to understand & solve problems relevant to both CW and pulsed fibre lasers and amplifiers
  • Use feedback from problem classes to prepare for answering examination questions


Transition cross sections. - Blackbody radiation. - Absorption, spontaneous emission and stimulated emission. Rare-earth spectroscopy. - 4f-4f transition of lanthanides. - Absorption and emission cross sections of rare-earth ions. - Host dependent transition cross sections. - Linewidth broadening and transition lineshapes. Rate equations for optical amplification. - Energy levels of rare-earth ions. - Three-level system. - Four-level system. Optical fibre lasers and amplifiers. - Transient dynamics. - CW lasers. - Pulsed lasers. Nonlinear interactions in fibres. - Self-phase modulation. - Modulation instability. - Stimulated Raman scattering. - Stimulated Brillouin scattering. Nonlinear amplifiers. - Raman amplifier. - Brillouin amplifier - Introduction to Parametric amplifiers.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, tutorials and laboratory visits. - Learning activities include - Lectures, coursework assignments, laboratory visits, and exam preparation

Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Completion of assessment task13.5
Wider reading or practice54.5
Follow-up work18
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Paul Gibbon. Short Pulse Laser Interactions with Matter. 

R. W Boyd. Nonlinear Optics. 

Anthony E Siegman (31533). Lasers. 

Emmanuel Desurvire. Erbium-Doped Fibre Amplifiers: Principles and Applications. 

G.P. Agrawal. Nonlinear Fibre Optics. 

Encyclopaedia of laser physics & technology.



MethodPercentage contribution
Assignments and problem sheets 20%
Examination  (2.5 hours) 80%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2.5 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisite: OPTO6008

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