A technique for the external frequency translation of light waves is reported. The technique permits the stepwise sweeping of an optical frequency over a wide range with high linearity with respect to time. The frequency translator is composed of an optical pulse modulator and an optical ring circuit containing an acousto-optic frequency shifter and an optical amplifier. The pulse launched into the ring circuit undergoes a constant frequency shift for each circulation around the circuit and the frequency can be translated to a considerable degree from that of the original input pulse. We report a stepwise frequency translation over approximately 68 GHz for a 1.5-μm light wave with a strictly constant frequency-sweep rate and an approximately constant intensity.
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