Optical circulator is a special fiber-optic component that can be used to separate optical signals that travel in opposite directions in an optical fiber, analogous to the operation of an electronic circulator. An optical circulator is a three-port device designed such that light entering any port exits from the next. This means that if light enters port 1 it is emitted from port 2, but if some of the emitted light is reflected back to the circulator, it does not come out of port 1, but instead exits from port 3. Circulators can be used to achieve bi-directional transmission over a single fiber. Because of its high isolation of the input and reflected optical powers and its low insertion loss, optical circulators are widely used in advanced communication systems and fiber-optic sensor applications.
Optical circulator has wide applications. They are used to convert an existing Unidirectional fiber optic communication Link to a full Duplex communication link by installing an optical circulator at each end of the link. Optical circulators are also used ill fiber Amplification systems, Wavelength division Multiplex (WDM) networks, optical time-domain reflectometers (OTDRs) and for test instruments.
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