A recently completed SUPA START project between M Squared Lasers and Heriot Watt University has seen the development of a 'frequency comb' generator with great commercial potential.
Compact Femtosecond Optical Frequency Comb
M Squared Lasers and Heriot Watt University
A recently completed SUPA START project between M Squared Lasers and Heriot Watt
University has seen the development of a 'frequency comb' generator with great commercial potential.
When used as part of a larger instrument, frequency combs find numerous applications ranging from high-resolution spectroscopy to precision distance metrology. Existing combs typically use fibre oscillators, which have good linewidth but have limited output power and tunability. The project aimed to develop a carrier-envelope-phase (CEP) stabilized Ti:sapphire laser, based on an emerging class of miniature 532-nm lasers. These new pump lasers have low noise, an extremely small footprint and offer sufficient power to pump a CEP-stabilized Ti:sapphire laser, enabling a compact, portable system that would present a competitive alternative to fibre systems.
The objectives of the SUPA START project were:
- to demonstrate the feasibility of constructing a functional optical frequency comb based primarily on technology already proven within the groups at M Squared and Heriot-Watt University.
- to obtain performance data that can be used to construct a business case justifying the further development and investment needed to bring such a product to market.
Both of these objectives were met and, as a precursor to a full comb system, the project demonstrated an extremely simple carrier-envelope-phase (CEP) stabilized Ti :sapphire laser, which occupies a footprint of only 300 x 550 mm, including CEP-stabilization hardware.
The next step will be to demonstrate complete locking of the repetition frequency and the CEO frequency in order to finalise the performance data for the system operating as a full comb.
Following the successful completion of the project, Heriot Watt and M Squared Lasers entered talks regarding a license deal that will ultimately enable M Squared to bring a new product to market.