Intensity noise limit in a phase-sensitive optical time-domain reflectometer with a semiconductor laser source
In the present paper we perform, for the first time, the analysis of the average intensity noise power level at the output of a coherent phase-sensitive optical time-domain reflectometer (phase-OTDR) with a semiconductor laser source. The origin of the considered intensity noise lies in random phase fluctuations of a semiconductor laser source field. These phase fluctuations are converted to intensity noise in the process of interference of backscattered light. This intensity noise inevitably emerges in every phase-OTDR spatial channel and limits its sensitivity to external phase actions. The analysis of intensity noise in a phase-OTDR was based on the study of a fiber scattered-light interferometer (FSLI) which is treated as the constituent part of OTDR. When considered independently, FSLI has a broad intensity noise spectrum at its output; when FSLI is treated as a part of a phase-OTDR, due to aliasing effect, the wide FSLI noise spectrum is folded within the spectral band, determined by the probe pulse repetition frequency. In the analysis one of the conventional phase-OTDR schemes with rectangular dual-pulse probe signal was considered, the FSLI, which corresponds to this OTDR scheme, has two scattering fiber segments with additional time delay introduced between backscattered fields. The average intensity noise power and resulting noise spectrum at the output of this FSLI are determined by the degree of coherence of the semiconductor laser source, the length of the scattering fiber segments and by the additional time delay between the scattering segments. The average intensity noise characteristics at the output of the corresponding phase-OTDR are determined by the analogous parameters: the source coherence, the lengths of the parts constituting the dual-pulse and the time interval which separates the parts of the dual-pulse. In the paper the expression for the average noise power spectral density (NPSD) at the output of FSLI was theoretically derived and experimentally verified. Based on the found average NPSD of FSLI, a simple relation connecting the phase-OTDR parameters and the limiting level of full average intensity noise power at its output was derived. This relation was verified by experimental measurement of the average noise power at the output of phase-OTDR. The limiting noise level, considered in the paper, determines the fundamental noise floor for the phase-OTDR with given parameters of the source coherence, probe pulse length and time delay between two pulses constituting the dual-pulse.