The Fiber Optics Lab serves several functions within the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE) and the Naval Academy. It supports a variety of courses as well as independent student research. As a teaching laboratory it is used extensively in the Fiber Optical Communications course, as well as for several labs in Engineering Electromagnetics. It has been used occasionally in support of Fundamentals of Electronic Instrumentation. The lab has also been used extensively for student research and faculty research. Examples include multiple Trident Scholar and Bowman Scholar projects, independent study projects, and capstone design projects. In the teaching room of the lab, up to eight students can work comfortably. A smaller secondary room focuses on independent student and faculty research.
A wide range of concepts can be explored in the teaching labs that use this laboratory. Basic free space optics is discussed in the electromagnetics course (e.g., using beam splitters and mirrors) and in fiber optics (e.g., coupling of light from free space to fiber using HeNe lasers, observation of optical modes and speckle patterns). Additional labs in fiber optics focus on communications. For this purpose, the lab has a wide assortment of optical components and lasers, including: optical modulators, bias controllers, optical amplifiers, optical attenuators (and pads), optical power sensors and multimeters, couplers, various wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) devices, semiconductor and DFB lasers (from free space to near IR) and tunable lasers, and long spools (25km) of fiber. High bandwidth test equipment is available, including: Agilent Digital Communications Analyzers and laser mainframes, optical transmitters and receivers, optical spectrum analyzer, bit error rates testers (3GHz and 12GHz), RF spectrum analyzers and signal generators in GHz ranges. Current student and faculty research using this lab is focused on optical sensing using fiber Bragg gratings or other devices. Much research has also focused on high speed WDM optical networking.