A photonic-assisted approach for instantaneous frequency measurement based on optical power monitoring is proposed and demonstrated. Instead of using optical filter, a dual-polarization Mach–Zehnder modulator is used to modulate the unknown RF signal with a designed electrical time delay. Due to the property of electrical time delay, the frequency information is firstly converted to phase shift and then to the optical power. By monitoring the optical power, a monotonic relationship between the incident microwave frequency and optical power ratio can be easily established. A detailed theoretical analysis is carried out to illustrate the mechanism of the proposed instantaneous frequency measurement setup. Simulation has been performed to investigate the tuning of measurement range and the impact of imperfection devices. A proof-of-concept experiment has been carried out to verify the mechanism.
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