19 February 2018 Ultra-low noise supercontinuum source for ultra-high resolution optical coherence tomography at 1300 nm
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Supercontinuum (SC) sources are of great interest for many applications due to their ultra-broad optical bandwidth, good beam quality and high power spectral density [1]. In particular, the high average power over large bandwidths makes SC light sources excellent candidates for ultra-high resolution optical coherence tomography (UHR-OCT) [2-5]. However, conventional SC sources suffer from high pulse-to-pulse intensity fluctuations as a result of the noise-sensitive nonlinear effects involved in the SC generation process [6-9]. This intensity noise from the SC source can limit the performance of OCT, resulting in a reduced signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) [10-12]. Much work has been done to reduce the noise of the SC sources for instance with fiber tapers [7,8] or increasing the repetition rate of the pump laser for averaging in the spectrometer [10,12]. An alternative approach is to use all-normal dispersion (ANDi) fibers [13,14] to generate SC light from well-known coherent nonlinear processes [15-17]. In fact, reduction of SC noise using ANDi fibers compared to anomalous dispersion SC pumped by sub-picosecond pulses has been recently demonstrated [18], but a cladding mode was used to stabilize the ANDi SC. In this work, we characterize the noise performance of a femtosecond pumped ANDi based SC and a commercial SC source in an UHR-OCT system at 1300 nm. We show that the ANDi based SC presents exceptional noise properties compared to a commercial source. An improvement of ~5 dB in SNR is measured in the UHR-OCT system, and the noise behavior resembles that of a superluminiscent diode. This preliminary study is a step forward towards development of an ultra-low noise SC source at 1300 nm for ultra-high resolution OCT.
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I. B. Gonzalo, M. Maria, R. D. Engelsholm, T. Feuchter, L. Leick, P. M. Moselund, A. Podoleanu, O. Bang, "Ultra-low noise supercontinuum source for ultra-high resolution optical coherence tomography at 1300 nm", Proc. SPIE 10486, Design and Quality for Biomedical Technologies XI, 104860N (19 February 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2282412; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2282412

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