Sapphire room temperature optical frequency reference: design, construction and application

Samuel Dawkins

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    218 Downloads (Pure)


    A pair of high-stability optical frequency references has been developed. The devices are based on room temperature Fabry-Perot cavities with mirrors spaced apart by a hollow single-crystal sapphire element. The sapphire element delivers mechanical sti ness that provides improved immunity to vibrational perturbations compared with the more common spacers made from ultra-low expansion glass. The system is housed in an vacuum chamber designed to provide isolation from environmental perturbations through the use of an active thermal control system, suspension legs and a unique beam alignment system. The dimensional stability of the Fabry-Perot was translated into a highly stable laser frequency by frequency locking a 1064nm Nd:YAG laser to the centre of a mode of the cavity. This frequency lock was implemented by the Pound-Drever-Hall scheme. By careful design, this control system was able to hold the frequency of the laser to within parts in 1016 of the frequency of the fundamental cavity mode. The minimum fractional frequency stability of the laser frequency was measured at 2.1x10[-]14 for integration times of 0.8 s, limited by the residual instability of the Fabry-Perot cavity. The experimental methods used to measure the performance of the system have also been considered in depth. For example, the most common way of characterizing the frequency stability of a frequency standard is the Allan variance. It is demonstrated that, without care, data taken with modern frequency counters can produce erroneous and distorted results when their output is supplied to this algorithm. The method to avoid or account for these errors is also presented. The Fabry-Perot cavity performance is limited on long timescales by residual temperature uctuations, which can be ameliorated in future by enhancing the design of the thermal control system. At short timescales, the system is limited by vibration-induced uctuations together with a white noise source, that is yet to be identi ed, but may relate to fundamental thermodynamic temperature uctuations of the sapphire spacer. This system was used to measure the stability of an optical signal synthesised from a cryogenic microwave sapphire oscillator using an wide-band optical frequency comb. This was the rst demonstration of a multiplication of an ultra-stable signal from the microwave frequency domain into the optical frequency domain, without loss of delity at the level of 2x10[-]14.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2007


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