How Much Do You Know About Optical Circulator?

What is Optical Circulator?

Optical circulator is a non reciprocal device allowing for the routing of light from one fiber to another based upon the direction of the light propagation. It is a special fiber optical component that could be used to separate optical signals in an optical fiber. It usually has at least three ports designed such that light entering any port exits from the next. With its features of high isolation of the input and reflected optical powers, as well as its low insertion loss, optical circulator is widely used in advanced communication systems and fiber optical sensing applications. 3-port optical circulator is the most commonly used optical circulator. In a 3-port optical circulator, there are generally two ports used as input ports and only one port used as output port. Here are some 3-port optical circulator samples shown in the following picture.

optical circulator

Principle of Optical Circulator

Optical circulator, as a passive element is widely used in fiber optical system. It is usually used to direct the optical signal from one port to another port and in one direction only. This action prevents the signal from propagating in an unintended direction. In a 3-port optical  circulator, a signal is transmitted from port 1 to port 2, another signal is transmitted from port 2 to port 3, finally a third signal can be transmitted from port 3 to port 1. The following picture shows us the working principle of the optical circulator with 3 ports.

principle of optical circulator

Main Features of Optical Circulator
  • High isolation
  • Low insertion loss
  • Low polarization dependent loss
  • Low polarization mode dispersion
  • Excellent environmental stability
Applications of Optical Circulator

Optical circulator can be utilized to achieve bi-directional optical signal transmission over a single fiber. It is a very important optical component which is commonly used in passive optical network, (wavelength division multiplexing) WDM network, polarization mode dispersion, chromatic dispersion compensation, optical add-drop modules (OADM), optical amplifiers, optical time domain reflectometry (OTDR) and fiber sensing applications. Fiberstore offers 3/4 ports polarization-insensitive optical circulator and 1310/1550/1064 polarization-maintaining (PM) optical circulators to satisfy your different applications.

In this blog, we have learnt some basic knowledge of optical circulator. We know that it is usually used to reduce the overall dispersion of light within a fiber-optic system. Especially in passive optical network, optical circulator is in a position to transmit light through the system and use half as much of the fiber to achieve the desired compensating effect while traveling through the system. In a word, optical circulator is an efficient means for conveying a light signal and makes communication systems more convenient and economical.

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