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Optical Spectrum Analyzer vs Microwave Spectrum Analyzer-Difference between Optical Spectrum Analyzer and Microwave Spectrum Analyzer

This page compares Optical Spectrum Analyzer vs Microwave Spectrum Analyzer and mentions difference between Optical Spectrum Analyzer and Microwave Spectrum Analyzer.

Both are test and measurement equipments used for testing different type of signals in two different domains.

Microwave Spectrum Analyzer

Microwave Spectrum Analyzer
Figure:1 Microwave Spectrum Analyzer Block Diagram

Microwave Spectrum Analyzer is used for measurement of radio frequency signals in microwave and other frequency bands. This type of spectrum analyzer plots microwave signal in X-Y co-ordinates. Here X-axis represents frequency (in Hz or MHz or GHz) and Y-axis represents power (in dB). It is basically a frequency domain analysis tool.
Refer spectrum analyzer basics➤ and spectrum vs network➤ analyzer for more information.

Optical Spectrum Analyzer

Optical Spectrum Analyzer
Figure:2 Optical Spectrum Analyzer Block Diagram

Optical Spectrum Analyzer is used for measurement of optical signals in optical bands. This type of spectrum analyzer plots optical signal in X-Y co-ordinates. Here X-axis represents wavelength (in µm or nm) and Y-axis represents amplitude or power (in dB).
Refer optical spectrum analyzer➤ for more information.

The architectures of both of these equipments are different. Following table summarizes the major difference between optical spectrum analyzer and microwave spectrum analyzer.


Parameter microwave spectrum analyzer optical spectrum analyzer
Measurement Microwave signal Optical signal
Plot dimensions • X-axis:Frequency,
• Y-axis:power(dB)
• X-axis:Wavelength,
• Y-axis:power(dB)
Average Noise Level • Non-zero average noise level
• It is determined by RBW
• Width of noise is determined by VBW
• Zero average noise level
• It does not depend on RBW.
• RMS level of noise is determined by VBW.
Sensitivity Here it is defined as average noise level. Here is is equivalent to six times that of rms value of noise.
Detector Type Simple diode based envelope detector Photodiode based detector

In the table, RBW represents Resolution Bandwidth and VBW represents Video Bandwidth.

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