All Microwave Stabilization Of Chip-Scale Frequency Combs

Communications Environment Optics and Photonics Semiconductors Sensors & Instrumentation

Keywords Optical device, MEMS, optical frequency comb, self-reference, microresonator, precision, sensitivity, stability

Summary

UCLA researchers in the Department of Electrical Engineering have developed an optical frequency comb technology using small, cheap components for high precision time, frequency, distance, and energy measurements.

Background

Optical frequency comb (OFC) technology can measure frequency of light in high precision compared with conventional atomic clocks. However, the mode locked lasers used in traditional OFCs are very expensive and limited to research labs. One solution is to use microresonator-based OFCs which promise small size, weight and power consumption (SWaP). But one major challenge for this micro-resonator-based OFCs is that the precision of the frequency comb positions is limited without sacrificing the SWaP advantages.

Innovation

UCLA researchers proposed and demonstrated a method to achieve precise optical frequency comb measurement using a microresonator. More specifically, the new method proposes a new method for stable self-referencing by taking advantage of the intrinsic offset frequency of the microresonator. The demonstrated prototype provides good frequency stability close to the reference microwave oscillator used in the experiment.

Applications

  • Precision frequency metrology, more precise atomic clocks
  • Chip-scale optical circuit or systems
  • Synchronization of advanced telecommunication systems
  • Remote detection and range measurements for manufacturing or defense applications
  • Ultrasensitive chemical detectors, control of chemical reactions using lasers
  • Precision navigation systems, such as next-generation global positioning systems
  • Applications that requires comb spacing of 10-100GHz: coherent Raman spectroscopy, high bandwidth telecommunication, optical arbitrary waveform generation, and astrospectrograph calibration

Advantages

  • Cheap and industrial-standard components: microresonator, CW laser, and low noise microwave oscillator
  • No need to use expensive pulsed lasers
  • Relative easy experimental setup, no need for multiple stages of power amplifier, or nonlinear optical setup
  • Small size, weight and power consumption (SWaP)
  • Comb spacing of 10-100GHz is advantageous for many applications
  • Potential for chip-scale electronic and photonic integration

Patent status

Patent Pending

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