The erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA)is the most deployed fiber amplifier as its amplification window coincides with the third transmission window of silica-based optical fiber.
Two bands have developed in the third transmission window – the Conventional, or C-band, from approximately 1525 nm – 1565 nm, and the Long, or L-band, from approximately 1570 nm to 1610 nm. Both of these bands can be amplified by EDFAs, but it is normal to use two different amplifiers, each optimized for one of the bands.
The principal difference between C- and L-band amplifiers is that a longer length of doped fiber is used in L-band amplifiers. The longer length of fiber allows a lower inversion level to be used, thereby giving at longer wavelengths (due to the band-structure of Erbium in silica) while still providing a useful amount of gain.
EDFAs have two commonly-used pumping bands – 980 nm and 1480 nm. The 980 nm band has a higher absorption cross-section and is generally used where low-noise performance is required. The absorption band is relatively narrow and so wavelength stabilised laser sources are typically needed. The 1480 nm band has a lower, but broader, absorption cross-section and is generally used for higher power amplifiers. A combination of 980 nm and 1480 nm pumping is generally utilised in amplifiers.