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As the saturation output power depends inversely on the optical confinement factor, the single pass gain can be maintained by reducing this coefficient or by increasing the amplifier length. This process is not always necessary for the reason that the peak material gain coefficient shifts to shorter wavelengths as the carrier density is increasing. When the average output power is at least 6 dB less than the output saturation power, nonlinear effects are not observed and the SOA is in the linear regime.

So, we can notice that a low gain corresponds to a high value of NF; whereas to have the possible maximum of the gain while satisfying the criterion of low noise, it is necessary to choose the highest bias current possible. 4 Linear and saturation operating regimes in a SOA structure A SOA amplifies input light through stimulated emission by electrically pumping the amplifier to achieve population inversion. It should have large enough gain for such application. The gain is dependent on different parameters, such as the injected current, the Semiconductor Optical Amplifier Nonlinearities and Their Applications for Next Generation of Optical Networks 35 device length, the wavelength and the input power levels.

6. Evolution of the gain as a function of the output power and the SOA bias current. Because of the SOA’s amplification and nonlinear characteristics, SOAs or integrated SOAs with other optical components can be exploited to assure various applications for high bit rate network systems. Moreover, large switching matrices comprised of SOA gates can be constructed to take advantage of the SOA gain to reduce insertion losses, to overcome electronic bottlenecks in switching and routing. The fast response speed can also be utilized effectively to perform packet switching.

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