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Nils Nemitz

Setup of a stable high-resolution laser system

Diploma Thesis
March 2004

University of Stuttgart
5th Institute of Physics Chair of Professor Dr. Tilman Pfau

Nils Nemitz Setup of a stable high-resolution laser system Diploma thesis 5th Institute of Physics Chair of Professor Tilman Pfau University of Stuttgart First edition March 2004 Nils Nemitz Aufbau eines stabilen hochausenden Lasersyo stems Diplomarbeit Fnftes Physikalisches Institut Lehrstuhl u Prof. Dr. Tilman Pfau Universitt Stuttgart Erstabgabe Mrz a a 2004

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.1 1.2 1.3 Scope of this Thesis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Motivation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Denitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 7 7 8 9 9 9

2. Theoretical Foundations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1 Laser Cooling and Trapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1.1 2.1.2 2.1.3 2.1.4 2.1.5 2.1.6 2.2 Doppler Cooling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Zeeman-eect and Hyperne Structure . . . . . . . . . 10 A Trap for Neutral Atoms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Equations and Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Cooling Rubidium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Cooling Ytterbium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

Cavities: Resonance and Transmission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 2.2.1 2.2.2 Optical Resonators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Confocal Cavities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20


Lock Signal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 2.3.1 2.3.2 2.3.3 Direct Locking to a Fringe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Traditional Hnsch-Couillaud Lock . . . . . . . . . . . 24 a Transmission Hnsch-Couillaud Lock . . . . . . . . . . 28 a Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28


Diode Lasers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 2.4.1 The Master Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Extended Cavity Laser Diodes . . . . . . . . 33

Spectroscopy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34


2.4.2 2.4.3

Injection Locking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Modulated Diode Lasers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Current-Dependency of Diode Laser Output . 40 Output of a Modulated Laser Diode . . . . . 42 Modulating an Injection-locked Laser . . . . . 42 Extending the Theoretical Model . . . . . . . 46 Vestigial Sideband Operation . . . . . . . . . 47 Sideband Injection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

3. Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Master Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Slave Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Modulation System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Green Laser System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Stabilization Cavity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Analyzer Assemblies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

4. System Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 About Linewidths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Stability of the Master Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Noise Introduced by the Slave Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Performance of Modulation Electronics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 4.4.1 4.4.2 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Stability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Tuning Range and Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74

Optical Spectra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Lock Signals - Cavity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Lock Signals - Dye Laser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 The System as a Whole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

5. Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 5.1 5.2 Ytterbium Spectroscopy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Double-Locked Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93


6. Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 6.1 6.2 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 Things to do . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97



A. Schematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 A.1 Radio-frequency Amplier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 A.2 VCO Driver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 A.3 Dierence Amplier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102

1. Introduction
1.1 Scope of this Thesis

This thesis deals with the construction of a laser system designed to provide green laser light with a narrow linewidth and good long term wavelength stability. Special consideration has been given to keeping the whole system as simple as possible and avoiding the use of expensive optical components while retaining the advantage of not being limited to any specic frequency. A dye laser is used as a widely tuneable laser source. It is locked to an optical resonator to reach the required narrow linewidth. The key idea in achieving long term stability was to stabilize the resonant frequency of this resonator using the reference provided by a laser diode locked to a spectroscopy setup on rubidium. The free choice of operating wavelength for the dye laser is provided by introducing an adjustable frequency oset to the reference laser by using a sideband-injected modulated slave laser as described in [1].



Since the Nobel Price in Physics for 2001 [2] was awarded to Eric Cornell, Wolfgang Ketterle and Carl Wieman for the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates, the eld dealing with matter in this unusual state has been growing quickly. Several BEC experiments are currently being undertaken at the University of Stuttgart. This thesis deals with one of them, which is designed to examine the eects of mixing rubidium and ytterbium atoms at ultra-cold temperatures. Rubidium is one of the most commonly used elements for experiments like this due to its level scheme, which is well suited for optical trapping and cooling while being easily accessible with inexpensive semiconductor diode lasers. Ytterbium was chosen because it has both fermionic and bosonic isotopes, which will increase the variety of experiments that can be done, while also oering a suitable level structure for laser cooling. Trapped ytterbium is also being used in experiments investigating parity non-conservation (PNC) [3,4], permanent electric dipole moment (EDM) in elemental particles [5,6] and the

1. Introduction

possibility of creating a precise optical clock [7]. Bose-Einstein-Condensation with ytterbium has also been achieved recently [8]. Ytterbium has two transition lines that are useful for laser cooling, but both have disadvantages. The transition at 398.3nm is quite broad with a linewidth of = 2 28MHz [9] which makes laser stability unproblematic, but the achievable temperature is limited by the Doppler temperature TD = 672K. For this reason, the laser system described here was designed to use the much narrower transition at 555.8nm, where = 2 180kHz and TD = 4.4K. To take full advantage of this, the laser will need a linewidth and stability comparable to this natural linwdith. This is not easily achieved, since the low saturation intensity makes fast high-resolution spectroscopy dicult.



Some of the terms in the following chapters are used with specic meanings throughout this thesis. These will be claried here. red light The 780.233nm light from a laser diode locked to a spectroscopy system which serves as a stable frequency reference as well as that emitted by the slave laser diode. red Components using the red light will be referred to as red, e.g. the red lock that stabilizes the cavity using the stable reference beam. green Any components using or generating the green 555.80nm light used for trapping ytterbium, e.g. the green MOT. reectivity (R) The fraction of the incident intensity reected by a mirror or other optical component. transmission (T) The fraction of the incident intensity transmitted through a mirror or other optical component. For lossless systems R + T = 1. (electric) eld reectivity (r) The amplitude of the electric elds in the reected beam from an optical component compared to the elds of the incident beam: Eref = r Ein . Phase shifts on reection can be encoded by using complex numbers for the eld reectivity coecient r. Relates to the reectivity as R = |r|2 . (electric) eld transmission (t) Transmission equivalent of the eld reectivity: Etrans = t Ein , T = |t|2 . Obviously r + t = 1 in general.

2. Theoretical Foundations
2.1 Laser Cooling and Trapping

Trapping and cooling atoms with lasers was rst proposed by Ashkin, Hnsch a and Schawlow [10, 11] in the 1970s. The rst working magneto-optical trap (MOT), that could both trap and cool atoms was reported in 1987 [12]. Since the laser system described here is being set up to operate a magnetooptical trap for ytterbium, this section will provide a basic outline of the operation and requirements of such a trap.


Doppler Cooling

Since photons carry an impulse of pphoton = k, their absorption and emission aects atomic movement. If the corresponding probabilities can be properly controlled, this can be used to cool and trap atoms. In a Doppler-cooling setup, several red-detuned laser beams are directed at the atoms. An atom can absorp a photon from any of the beams, but the probabilities depends on the amount of detuning. If the atom is moving it will see the beams Doppler shifted according to D = kv (2.1)

for non-relativistic speeds. Here k is the wave vector of the laser beam and v the velocity of the atom. If the atom moves towards the source of the laser beam, the Doppler shift will reduce the detuning. The result of this is that the atom is more likely to absorp a photon travelling against its direction of movement, which will reduce its velocity. Before this process can repeat itself, the atom has to return to its ground state. This can happen by either stimulated or spontaneous emission of a photon. Stimulated emission is most likely to result in a photon identical to the originally absorped one. This would return the atom to its original velocity and therefore would not contribute to the cooling process. Spontaneous emission, however, will occur in a random direction and while each individual photon emitted will change the atoms momentum by pphot = k, the eects tend to cancel out, resulting in a vanishing net eect. In this approximation, which treats the repeated absorption and reemission as one continuous process, the total eects can be described as the so-called


2. Theoretical Foundations

spontaneous force [13, 14] Fsp = ksc , (2.2) where k is the wave vector of the laser and sc is the scattering rate for the absorption-spontaneous emission-cycle described above: sc = CG I/I0 2 1 + I/I0 + (2( + D )/)2 (2.3)

Here CG is the Clebsch-Gordan coecient of the transition, I0 its saturation intensity and I and are the intensity and the detuning of the incident beam. is the decay rate of the excited state and D is the Doppler shift described above. Using a combination of beams from dierent directions results in a slowing force for movement in any direction. This is called optical molasses and is usually done using a setup of six beams on three orthogonal axes. This can cool atoms, but since the force depends only on the velocity of the atoms and not on their position, this alone is not enough to make a trap. The following sections will describe how a position dependent component can be added by using magnetic elds.


Zeeman-eect and Hyperne Structure

Except for congurations with no magnetic dipole moment, atomic energy levels (determined by the atomic quantum numbers n, J and S) will split into several components with dierent values for mS if a magnetic eld is applied. These are separated by an energy dierence EB = B B gJ mJ = B B m J 1+ J(J + 1) + S(S + 1) L(L + 1) 2J(J + 1) (2.4)

where gJ is the Land g-factor (neglecting nuclear spin), which results from e the mixing of orbital and spin angular momentum. A theoretical background for this can be found in many books dealing with the quantum mechanical description of atoms. For a simple explanation of the involved factors see [15]. If suciently strong magnetic elds are used, this Zeeman splitting will have a much stronger eect than any hyperne splitting that might be present. This will result in several groups of equidistant transition lines as shown in gure 2.1.2, some of which may be degenerate in what is called the normal Zeeman eect. For weaker magnetic elds (usually 0.1T ) the hyperne structure, if present, will still be the dominating feature and the Zeeman eect will cause an additional splitting of the hyperne levels. Since the relative alignment of electronic (J) and core (I) angular momenta is the distinguishing factor between the hyperne structure levels, the only free parameter when looking

2.1. Laser Cooling and Trapping


Fig. 2.1: Splitting of energy levels due to the Zeeman eect and its eect in transition lines. Left: 3 spectral lines due to energetically degenerate transitions in the so-called normal Zeeman eect, Right: 6 lines for anomalous Zeeman eect in a level scheme as found in rubidium. From [15], p.124. at one particular line is the projection mF . For any F there will be 2F+1 possibilities for the projection to the quantization axis dened by the external eld. Equation 2.4 can be adapted to this case by using mF and the modied g-factors gF instead of mJ and gJ . Values for the relevant levels in 87 Rb are shown in gure 2.3. Since the splitting of the levels depends on the total angular momentum of the various states, transitions require specic changes in angular momentum. In a simple emission or absorption process, this has to be provided by the photon, which always carries a spin of 1. This gives rise to a set of selection rules, the most basic of which say that F and mF can change by a maximum value of 1 for absorption or emission of a single photon. Using circularly polarized light corresponding to photons with a dened projected spin, it is possible to drive certain transitions deliberately. A + photon, with a clockwise polarization relative to the magnetic eld, has a spin mphoton = +1. If it is absorbed, it will cause a change in angular momentum mF = +1. An absorbed photon will cause a mF = 1 transition.


A Trap for Neutral Atoms

By using a combination of Doppler eect and Zeeman splitting, it is possible to create a magneto-optical trap that both holds the atoms in one place and cools them. In the following this shall be described for the one-dimensional case. With minor adaptions the same scheme works in 3D as well.


2. Theoretical Foundations

Two slightly red-detuned laser beams are sent into the trap region from both sides, creating a Doppler cooling setup as described before. It can be turned into a trap with a spatially restoring force by applying an inhomogeneous magnetic eld with a zero value in the trap center, causing a Zeeman shift that increases with the distance to the trap center. For the simplest case, where the ground state has zero angular momentum and the excited state has J = 1 (or Z = 1), this is shown in gure 2.2.

Fig. 2.2: Zeeman-split energy levels in a MOT. The laser is running at a frequency of laser , which has a detuning 0 from the unshifted transition frequency 0 at z = 0. For atoms not in the center of the trap the Zeeman shift reduces the detuning for the beam which will push the atom back towards the center to while bringing the other beam even further from resonance. rM OT is the capture radius at which the preferably absorbed beam passes through resonance. From this point outwards detuning for both beams will increase. If the incident beams have the appropriate circular polarizations with regard to the z axis, the beam coming from the left can only drive the transitions that are close to resonance left of the origin and vice versa, resulting in a restoring force.


Equations and Limitations

Leaving details to the literature [14], some equations for the MOT shall be given anyway to illustrate the limitations and requirements. In the low intensity limit, where the inuence of stimulated emission can be ignored and assuming that all processes are so slow that many absorptionemission cycles smooth out the random walk of the individual processes, the

2.1. Laser Cooling and Trapping


radiative force is given by F = k s0 , 2 1 + s0 + (2 /)2 (2.5)

where s0 = I/Is is the on-resonance saturation parameter, describing the intensity I of the incident light compared to the saturation intensity Is characteristic for the transition, k is the lights k-vector and = 1/ is the transition linewidth. The detuning incorporates the eects of both Zeeman and Doppler shift: = k v B(r)/ (2.6)

Here is the detuning from the unshifted resonance, B(r) is the magnetic eld at the current position and the eective magnetic moment includes angular momenta and g-factors for both ground and excited state: = (ge me gg mg )B (2.7)

For small Doppler and Zeeman shifts this can be linearized to the form F = v r , (2.8)

which is the well known form for a damped oscillator. In a magneto-optical trap the damping constant turns out too be greater than the spring constant resulting in an overdamped oscillation. This equation seems to imply that the atoms can be slowed to a complete stop, but unfortunately there are limits to that. When the atoms get too slow, the transition linewidth becomes large in comparison to the doppler shifts. This evens out the probabilities to absorb a photon from the right or wrong beam, lowering the eectiveness of the cooling mechanism until the uctuations introduced by the random-walk nature of the absorptionemission-cycle lead to a lower temperature limit. This is the Doppler temperature TD given by k B TD = 2 (2.9)

This is directly proportional to the linewidth, which will become important in the next section.


Cooling Rubidium

Although rubidium is not in the focus of this work, a look at the cooling system used in the experiment is interesting nonetheless. Besides providing a reference to compare the green system to, its laser system is used as the stable frequency reference in the setup for ytterbium.


2. Theoretical Foundations

Rubidium can be cooled on the 5S1/2 (F=2) 5P3/2 (F=3) transition, the level scheme of which is given in gure 2.3. A complete theoretical description would take an inappropriate amount of space here, as the atoms will populate 5 states with dierent projections of angular momentum in the lower state and 7 in the excited state. And since the Land-factors dier for both states, e there will be almost no degeneracy except for the zero-eld state in the trap center. But since this mostly aects the spring constant in the damped oscillator approximation described by equation 2.8, the atoms will still feel trapping and cooling forces.

Fig. 2.3: Relevant energy levels in 87 Rb together with transitions used in the experiment. From [16, 17] A bigger problem is that the linewidth /2 5.9MHz is not particularly small compared to the spacing of the hyperne energy levels. Especially since the other transitions see Zeeman and Doppler shifts as well, this opens up a loss channel where atoms can be excited to the F=2 state instead, from where the selection rules allow them to fall back to the F=1 ground state. Due to the strong eect of the nuclear spin on S-states, the hyperne splitting in the ground state is so big that the atoms cannot be excited by the MOT-laser anymore. To reduce the eects of this loss, a repumper laser is used, driving 5S1/2 (F = 1) 5P3/2 (F = 2). This will keep exciting the lost atoms until they fall back into the F=2 ground state.

2.1. Laser Cooling and Trapping



Cooling Ytterbium

While the laser system, which is the main focus of this thesis, is not limited to operation at a specic wavelength, its motivation is the cooling of ytterbium atoms to low temperatures. Since this denes the desired stability and linewidth, this section will give some data for ytterbium as far as it relates to optical trapping and cooling. The energy level scheme (see gure 2.4) of the most abundant ytterbium isotope 174 Yb is simpler than for rubidium due to the lack of nuclear spin. In fact, there are two transitions that can be used for a MOT, both without the need for repumping and with a Zeeman splitting that works as illustrated in gure 2.2.

Fig. 2.4: Relevant energy levels in 174 Yb together with transitions used in the experiment.From [9, 18] The diculties lie in the linewidths of the transitions. The blue 1 S0 1 P1 transition with =28.0MHz2 is very broad, allowing for easy construction of optical systems of adequate stability and good capture parameters at the cost of a high Doppler limited temperature of 672K. The green 1 S0 3 P1 transition on the other hand is very narrow at = 182kHz 2, allowing for a very low Doppler limit on temperature of only 4.4K. The experiment described has been set up from the beginning to be


2. Theoretical Foundations

able to provide suciently slow and cold atom that can be captured even by a MOT on the green transition. Stabilizing a narrow-linewidth laser to the wavelength of this transition will be central topic in the following. One additional feature of ytterbium is that it has seven stable isotopes that dier in nuclear spin, some of them having bosonic and some fermionic character. The dierences between the transition frequencies of the various isotopes are on the order of GHz. This has the advantage that a specic species can be selected for an experiment simply by adjusting the laser frequencies in the trapping and cooling system. A spectrum taken in our experiment is shown as gure 2.5 in the chapter on ytterbium spectroscopy.
3,5 174 172 173
F=3/2 F=7/2

fluorescence signal


2 176 171 1,5 173 1

F=5/2 F=3/2

170 171

0,5 -1000











relative frequency [MHz]

Fig. 2.5: Isotope shifts for the 399nm transition in ytterbium. Measured uorescence signal in arbitrary units over frequency relative to the transition in 174 Y b. Dierent isotopes and spin states are labeled.


Cavities: Resonance and Transmission

Although there is no fundamental dierence between light and other kinds of electro-magnetic waves, the fact that optical frequencies run in the range of 500THz makes it impossible to directly measure phase and frequency. Optical detectors will generally only measure the lights intensity, which is proportional to the squared amplitude of the electric eld in the EM wave.


Optical Resonators

Optical resonators or cavities are one commonly used way to overcome this obstacle. In its most basic form, such a resonator consists of two parallel

2.2. Cavities: Resonance and Transmission


mirrors, bouncing the light back and forth between them as illustrated in Figure 2.6. In reality such a conguration is unstable even for perfectly aligned mirrors, since diraction eects will always cause the beam to diverge. Using curved mirrors can compensate this, but in the interest of keeping the theory simple for the beginning, diraction and misalignment eects will be ignored for now.

Fig. 2.6: Light in a resonator consisting of parallel mirrors. Drawn with non-orthogonal incidence for clarity. In order to understand how the beams transmitted or reected by the cavity depend on the mirror spacing and the wavelength, we will follow the light from the point where it hits the rst mirror (A). Here we have an electric eld amplitude Ein , a part of which is transmitted into the resonator resulting in an initial electric eld EA0 = Ein tA , (2.10) where tA is the mirrors electric eld transmission. The light will now travel through the cavity, be partially reected at mirror B and return to mirror A to be reected again. At the beginning of the next cycle the remaining electric eld amplitude will be EA1 = rA rB EA0 , with rA and rB being the electric eld reectivities for the mirrors. It is important to note that in contrast to the intensity reectivities R, these need not be real and positive. In many situations they will in fact be complex numbers, describing the phase jump as well as the reected amplitude: r = |r| e2i


where |r| is the reected amplitude and is the phase jump that occurs upon reection. For the case of reection on the interface to a medium with a higher index of refraction there will be a phase jump of = 2 [19], causing r to be real but negative. Reection on the other side of the same surface will not show a phase jump and therefore have a positive r. To nd the relative phase between the beam returning from the round trip and the beam just entering the cavity, it is easiest to keep the phase of the incoming beam constant and apply a phase propagation factor to the reected beam: 2d (2.12) EA(n+1) = rA rB e2i EA(n) ,


2. Theoretical Foundations

where d is the mirror spacing and the wavelength of the light. Summing over all EA(n)

EA =

Ein tA rA rB e2i



is possible by using the equality [20]

an =

1 1a


(for |a| < 1), resulting in EA = Ein tA 1 1 rA rB e2i



Now the elds for the reected and transmitted beams can be found. For the transmitted beam d (2.16) EoutB = EA tB e2i tA tB e2i 1 rA rB e2i
2d d

EoutB = Ein


For the reected beam the reection of the incident beam has to be added to the beam reected one more time on mirror B and then leaving the resonator through mirror A: EoutA = Ein (rA ) + Ein t2 rB e2i A
2d 2d

1 rA rB e2i


The reectivity for the beam that never enters the cavity is rA , since it happens on the other side of the same surface as the cavity internal reections considered so far. This is obvious for the simple case of a reection caused by a change in index of refraction, where the reection remaining in the low index material will see a phase shift of /2, but there will be no shift for the beam on the high-index side. But this relationship also holds for the general case. The phase jumps for reection on both sides of the same surface always have to add up to /2. This is equivalent to the additional minus sign in equation 2.18 and ensures that in resonance, the beam that was immediately reected and the beam that returns from the cavity have opposite signs and therefore tend to cancel each other out. If this was not the case, a resonant low-loss resonator would have a total reectivity greater than one, violating energy conservation as the reected beam would constantly have a higher intensity than the incident beam.

2.2. Cavities: Resonance and Transmission

intensity 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 780.001 intensity 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 780.001 780.002 780.003 780.004 wavelength 780.002 780.003 780.004 wavelength


Fig. 2.7: Reected (green) and transmitted (red) relative intensities for a 100mm resonator depending on wavelength given in nm. Calculated as |Eout /Ein |2 , using 2.18 and 2.17 for Eout . (top: R=0.95, T=0.05; bottom: R=0.95, T=0.03) It is also interesting to note that for any lossless conguration, the transmission in resonance is always 100%, while the reection falls to 0%. For an assumed lossless cavity with a mirror spacing of 100mm and intensity reectivities of 95% (RA = rA2 = RB = rB2 = 0.95 ) the relative intensities of the transmitted and reected beams are plotted in the upper graph of gure 2.7. The reectivities rA and rB are assumed to be real and negative here. This eliminates any phase contribution from the reections, as the product rA rB in the denominator will be real and positive. For complex or mixed reectivities this will not be the case, resulting in a shift of the resonance lines. However, as this does not aect the spacing of the lines, it will be ignored here. In the simple case described initially, 2d needs to be an integer for resonance to occur. This corresponds to an equidistant set of resonant frequencies c (2.19) res = n , n N , 2d where the frequency spacing is often referred to as the free spectral range (FSR) of the resonator: c (2.20) FSR = 2d Another important quantity is the FWHM linewidth of the resonance peaks which for highly reective mirrors in an otherwise perfect resonator can be found [21] to be c 1 rA rB (2.21) 1 theor = 2 2d rA rB


2. Theoretical Foundations

in good approximation. The ratio of free spectral range to linewidth is an indication of the optical quality of the resonator and is commonly referred to as its nesse: F= FSR 1


For a perfect resonator the linewidth is given by equation 2.21. Therefore the maximum achievable nesse for a given set of mirrors is determined by Fmax = rA rB FSR = 1 theor 1 rA rB


For the values used in gure 2.7, Fmax 61. In a real resonator, however, there will be additional losses. These will have two dierent eects. Any imperfection that reduces the amount of light returning to the rst mirror after a round trip will show up as an additional factor (fint ) in the rA rB terms. This will result in a broadening of the resonance lines, reducing the nesse. Eects that reduce the amount of light entering or leaving the resonator will lower the factors ta or tb in equations 2.18 and 2.17. This will not reduce the width of the resonances, but instead it will lower the signal amplitude. Absorption in the silver mirrors used in the experiment is one factor that will cause this. Figure 2.7 illustrates this. Both diagrams plot transmitted and reected intensities over the wavelength of the incident light. The upper one is for lossless mirrors (R=0.95, T=0.05) and the lower one shows the eect mirrors that absorp some of the incident light (R=0.95, T=0.03). The values used here correspond to mirrors coated with a 45nm silver layer. While the shape of the resonances remains unchanged, their amplitudes are reduced: The reected intensity never drops below 15%, while the maximum transmitted signal never reaches more than 40%. The signal measured in the actual experiment show a mixture of these two eects. The resonance lines are wider than expected from the mirror reectivities and the intensity of the transmitted beam is much lower than that of the incident beam, even in resonance.


Confocal Cavities

As mentioned before, a resonator with plane mirrors is unstable due to unavoidable diraction eects. This will quickly cause the beam to diverge, which causes the beam to be clipped by mirrors or the resonator walls. These additional losses will result in a nesse that is lower than what the previous calculations imply. Using suitably curved mirrors will prevent this by refocussing the beams upon each reection.

2.2. Cavities: Resonance and Transmission


The formalism of using Gaussian beams and matching the curvature of their wavefronts to those of the mirrors is described in detail in almost every textbook on laser physics [21, 22] and shall not be explained here. Resonators constructed in this way are called stable and will virtually eliminate diraction losses as long as the mirrors are big compared to the spot sizes of the laser beam. For suitable mirror spacings even a beam that enters the cavity slightly oaxis or o-center will return to its point of entry after traversing the cavity several times [23].

Fig. 2.8: round trip in a confocal cavity for o-axis input For the confocal cavity used in our experiment, the optical path is illustrated in Figure 2.8. In this conguration, where the focal points of the mirrors coincide, a round trip for an o-axis beam consists of four passages through the cavity. Therefore the spacing between resonances will be res = c 4d (2.24)

An equivalent, although less intuitive way to treat this is to nd the resonant conditions for Hermite-Gaussian beams inside the cavity and then develop the incident beam in this basis. These calculations, which are done in detail in the book by Siegman [24], show that while the zeroth order Hermitec Gaussian modes still have resonances at res = n 2d (n N) as in the case of the parallel-mirror resonator, the higher transverse modes are oset by c integral multiples of = 4d . Unless special care is taken to make sure the incident beam matches the pure Gaussian mode, many transverse modes will be excited. This results in a system of equidistant resonances equivalent to a parallel resonator of twice the mirror spacing, same as for the ray tracing approach above. In the following these additional complexities will be ignored, although they are one of the limiting factors for the achievable linewidth in an imperfectly aligned resonator as the transverse modes will not be completely degenerate anymore. Another notable point is that since resonances occur twice as often, the free spectral range and therefore the nesse of a confocal resonator are half of


2. Theoretical Foundations

what they would be in a system with plane mirrors: FSR-confocal = c 4d (2.25)

Using the picture of a roundtrip consisting of four passes through the cavity, it is possible to adapt the model of equations 2.17 and 2.18 to the new situation. The eld amplitude Eout2 of the rst transmitted beam (spot 2 in gure 2.8) is very similar to that of the transmitted beam in the case of parallel mirrors. Remembering equation 2.14, the terms in the denominator correspond to the sum of contributions from all the complete roundtrips. Since both the distance travelled and the number of reections are doubled compared to the original situation, 2d in the phase propagation factor needs 2 2 to be replaced by 4d and the factor rA rB by rA rB . The latter will be referred to as the roundtrip factor f in later chapters. The terms appearing in the enumerator describe the changes in phase in amplitude and phase caused by entering the resonator through mirror A (tA ), one additional passage through d the cavity (e2i ) in addition to the sum of complete roundtrips, and nally leaving it through mirror B (tB ). All of these are exactly the same as before and remain unchanged, resulting in the equation Eout2 = Ein tA tB e2i
2 2 1 rA rB e2i
4d d


The electric eld amplitude Eout1 of the reection from the cavity (spot 1 in gure 2.8) is found by adding the beam that is reected immediately by the rst mirror and that beam that returns from inside the cavity. The rst part is still given by Ein (rA ), while the second requires three reections and four passes through the cavity now before it leaves the resonator again, in addition to the sum of complete roundtrips. This yields the equation Eout1 = Ein (rA ) + Ein
2 t2 rA rB e2i A

1 f e2i



Figure 2.9 illustrates the results of these equations. Since all sensors in our experiment generate signal proportional to the intensity instead of electric eld amplitude, the graphs plotted are all relative intensities found by using Irel Eout = Ein


Since there are now four possibilities for the light to leave the resonator, it is obvious that the transmitted intensity in each individual spot must be lower than for the parallel mirror setup. This is plotted here for spot 2, the outputs in spot 3 and spot 4 are similar with minimally lower intensities due to the additional reections that occur.

2.3. Lock Signal


It is important to note that in a confocal resonator, the reected intensity will never drop to zero, even for lossless mirrors. This is most easily understood in the picture of many transversal modes present in the resonator. The complete pattern of resonance lines is actually the superposition of two sets of degenerate lines that are shifted against each other. Both sets can never be resonant at the same time, eectively halving the electric eld amplitude that can build up in the resonator compared to that in a cavity with parallel mirrors. This also limits the eld amplitude of the beam leaving the resonator to halve that of the incident beam, causing the cancellation to be incomplete. Even for lossless, highly reecting mirrors, the remaining eld amplitude will be one half of that in the incident beam, corresponding to a relative intensity Irel = very similar value.
0.5Ein Ein 2

= 0.25. The upper plot in gure 2.9 shows a

Introducing mirror losses has the same eect as described before. As long as the reectivities are kept the same, the width of the resonance lines remains unchanged, but the signal amplitude decreases.
intensity 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 780.001 intensity 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 780.001 780.002 780.003 780.004 wavelength 780.002 780.003 780.004 wavelength

Fig. 2.9: Reected (green) and transmitted (red) relative intensities for a 100mm confocal resonator depending on wavelength given in nm. (top: R=0.95, T=0.05; bottom: R=0.95, T=0.03)


Lock Signal

In our experiment, the cavity is locked to a stabilized diode laser, while another laser is locked to the cavity in turn. This chapter describes the method used for locking and the reasons it was chosen.


2. Theoretical Foundations


Direct Locking to a Fringe

The simplest way to lock cavity or laser is to use the side of the transmission fringe. Choosing a point where the intensity is about half of the maximum transmitted intensity, the dierences from this value can serve as error signal in a feedback loop. Unfortunately, the system will see any intensity uctuations of the laser as errors and translate them into frequency uctuations. Reducing this eect either requires active stabilization of the lasers emitted intensity or increasing the slope of the resonance fringe by using a cavity of higher nesse. But doing so will increase the eect of the second shortcoming of this locking mechanism: Any disturbance that shifts the frequency by more than one FWHM-linewidth of the resonance can push the system across the maximum to the other edge of the fringe. Once it reaches the region where the transmitted amplitude is lower than that at the original lockpoint, the error signal will take on the wrong sign, causing the system to become unlocked as illustrated in gure 2.10

Fig. 2.10: Stable and unstable regions for locking a laser to the side of a resonator transmission fringe. A disturbance by as little as one FWHM of the resonance can cause the laser to unlock, running o towards the next resonance.


Traditional Hnsch-Couillaud Lock a

One way to reduce the inuence of intensity uctuations is to generate a locking signal that will not change its oset from zero for varying intensity for at least one position, while at the same time oering a slope that can be used to create an error signal. This often takes the form shown in gure 2.11 which is commonly called dispersion shaped due to its similarity to the

2.3. Lock Signal


structures found when plotting the index of refraction of a material over frequency. It oers a good slope for stabilizing the system at the lockpoint marked in the diagram. Changes in intensity will ideally only scale the signal, leaving the frequency of the zero-crossing unaected. Additionally, the system will return to the lockpoint for disturbances up to one half of the resonators free spectral range.

Fig. 2.11: Stable and unstable regions for a dispersion shaped locking signal. A simple way to generate such a signal was rst proposed by Hnsch and a Couillaud [25]. This uses the fact that similar to other systems that undergo forced oscillation, the phase of the light wave that builds up in the resonator will be lagging behind that of the incident beam if the frequency of the latter is higher than that of the nearest cavity resonance, while for a driving frequency below the nearest resonance it will be advanced compared to it. Only at resonance and directly in the middle between two resonant frequencies will the phase dierence be zero. Plotting the phase dierence between the incident beam and the resulting wave in the cavity over frequency would result in a signal very similar to the one sketched in 2.11. In order to generate an electronic signal from this, the Hnsch-Couillaud sea tup uses a polarization lter inside the resonator. This might simply take the form of a glass plate inserted at Brewsters angle to reduce transmission for the vertical polarization as indicated in gure 2.12. The beam entering the resonator is linearly polarized at such an angle that it will have both vertical and horizontal components. A part of both polarizations is reected back at the rst mirror, never entering the cavity. For the vertical polarization that is assumed to be blocked inside the resonator, the part that enters it is simply lost. The transmitted part of the other component, however, can excite oscillations as described in the previous section. For this horizontal polarization, the reected beam also contains contributions from the light wave inside the


2. Theoretical Foundations

Fig. 2.12: Fictitious polarization components in a resonator with a polarizing lter. While the horizontal polarization (green) can propagate normally inside the resonator, the part of the vertical polarization that enters through the rst mirror is reected or absorbed by the lter, preventing the build-up of a standing wave even in resonance. resonator,which will transfer some of the phase shifts mentioned above to the output beam. Looking at the simplest case of a resonator with parallel mirrors or a confcocal cavity where only one transversal mode is excited, equation 2.18 describes the reected beam including the contribution from the resonator. For the two ctitious polarization components this yields Ehor = Ein (rA ) + Ein t2 rB e2i A
2d 2d

1 rA rB e2i

(2.29) (2.30)

Ever = Ein (rA )

Now the polarization that cannot propagate inside the resonator will serve as a phase reference for the other, orthogonal polarization. If there is no phase shift, then the resulting beam will still be linearly polarized, although the axis of polarization will rotate slightly due to the dierent reectivities for the ctitious polarization components. In resonance the phase of the beam returning from the cavity is relative to the immediately reected one, resulting in a reduction of amplitude without changing the phase of the resulting beam: Ehor t2 rB 1 A = Ein (rA ) + Ein 1 (rA rB 1) Ever = Ein (rA ) (2.31) (2.32)

Outside of resonance, when the total optical path is not an integral number 2d of wavelengths, the phase factors e2i will generally not be real, adding a phase shift to the horizontally polarized reected beam that is not present in the vertically polarized beam. This shift makes the total polarization of the reected beam elliptical (see gure 2.13).

2.3. Lock Signal


Fig. 2.13: Left: Phase shifted polarization components as the basis of elliptical polarization. Right: A quarter-wave plate converts linear to circular polarization and vice versa. Both illustrations from Georgia State Universitys Hyperphysics web page at http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hph.html. This can now be analyzed with a detector consisting of a quarter-wave plate and a polarizing beam splitter. The quarter-wave plate will convert circular polarization to linear polarization and, for proper alignment of the optical axis, linear to circular polarization as shown in the right diagram of gure 2.13. Depending on the handedness of the circular component, the axis of the resulting linear polarization will be aligned at either +45or -45from the optical axis. If the beam splitter is properly oriented along these axes, it will output all incident power to one port if the light before the wave-plate had a pure right-handed circular polarization, and to the other port if it was left-handed circular polarized. Any remaining linear polarization can be described as a superposition of equal parts left- and right-handed polarization and will be evenly split up between the output ports of the beam splitter. The whole setup is shown in gure2.14

Fig. 2.14: Top view of the analyzer assembly for detection of circularly polarized light. The quarter wave plate mixes the horizontal (green) and vertical (red) components of the incoming light and the beam splitter cube splits it into the new linear components, which are detected by photodiodes.


2. Theoretical Foundations

Measuring the intensities with photodiodes and taking the dierence between both channels will eliminate this contribution and result in a single dispersion-shaped signal. The laser can now be locked to the zero-crossing that occurs at resonance, since any deviation will create an error signal that near resonance is approximately proportional to the deviation.


Transmission Hnsch-Couillaud Lock a


The system described above works very well in most cases, but it has several drawbacks for the application in our experiment. Since the absorption losses for the silver coated mirror used are rather large, the amplitude of the light returning from the cavity is low compared to that of the direct reection. This degrades the signal-to-noise ratio considerably, since the noise caused by amplitude and polarization noise of the laser in conjunction with imperfect components in the analyzer is proportional to the total intensity. In a near-lossless resonator, the intensity of the reected light will drop at resonance, as the beam reemerging from the cavity interferes destructively with the directly reected one. As our setup uses a modulation technique (see section 3.4 to add sidebands to the electromagnetic wave entering the cavity, there will always be some components not at resonance, reducing the impact of this benecial eect. Finally, imperfect mode-matching reduces the intensity that is actually available to excite oscillation of resonator-modes, without reducing the amplitude of the initially reected beam. This eectively lowers the transmission of the rst mirror, aecting the signal as indicated in gure 2.9. This further lowers the signal-to-noise ratio. Since all of these eects are directly related to the reection at the front surface of the resonator, the modication applied to the setup consists of moving the analyzer to the other side of the cavity and looking at the transmitted light. In the following pages the theory behind this Transmission Hnsch-Couillaud Lock will be explained in detail. a Theory

Equation 2.26, which was only used to nd the intensity of the transmitted beam so far, also allows us to look at its phase. Eout2 = Ein tA tB e2i 1 f e
2i 4d


2.3. Lock Signal


Here the factor for the mirror reectivities have been replaced by the 2 2 roundtrip factor f = rA rB , which will later be extended to include intentional as well as accidential losses occuring during one roundtrip through the resonator. By comparing the transmitted beam to an imaginary reference beam that passes through the cavity without undergoing any reections, some of the terms in this equation can be dropped: Erel = Eout2 Eout2 1 = = 4d Eref erence tA tB e2if racd 1 f e2i (2.34)

The phase rel = arg(Erel is plotted in gure 2.15.

phase 0.3 0.2 0.1 780.001 -0.1 -0.2 -0.3 780.002 780.003 780.004 wavelength

phase 0.3 0.2 0.1 wavelength -0.1 -0.2 -0.3 780.0007 780.0008 780.0009

Fig. 2.15: Relative phase in units of for the transmitted beam depending on the wavelength (in nm) for a 100mm confocal cavity. Mirrors: R=0.95, T=0.03. The red graph is for the basic cavity, the green one for a cavity with an additional intensity loss of 8% per round trip. The top graph is plotted at the same scale as the previous plots on cavity reectivity and transmission, while the lower one is magnied to show the frequency range near a resonance. In resonance, all the electric eld contributions in the resonator have exactly the same phase, so the emitted light has exactly the same phase as that of a beam passing through without being reected. Therefore the relative phase is zero, independent of f. Halfway between resonances the phase dierences between one round trip and the next are big and more or less cancel each other out, resulting in a net phase of zero again. The most interesting part is the area close to a resonance, as magnied in the lower plot. Here the circulating light only undergoes a minimal phase shift


2. Theoretical Foundations

between round trips, and the eld amplitude eectively falls to zero before these can start to cancel each other out. For a high nesse, many reections will occur before the intensity drops close to zero, resulting in an increased contribution from round-trips that have accumulated a larger phase shift. The extreme case for a low nesse would be a mirrorless cavity, resulting in zero phase shift for all wavelengths. So the slope of the phase around resonance depends strongly on the round trip factor f and therefore on the 1 f cavity nesse F 21f . The eect is that in resonance the two modes with orthogonal linear polarizations will have the same phase, resulting in linearly polarized light. When the laser gets out of resonance, the phase slope is dierent for both polarizations. If the horizontal polarization is lagging behind the vertical one on the high frequency side of resonance, then it will be the other way around on the low frequency side. This will once again add a circular component to the polarization of the total beam. The only dierence to the original Hnsch-Couillaud lock is that the a assumption of having a completely stable reference beam has to be dropped. In this setup, ltering one of the polarization components out completely would remove the required phase reference. Instead, the polarization lter inside the cavity has to have an attenuation for one polarization that is high enough to spoil the cavity nesse for this component, while transmitting enough intensity to generate measurable circular polarization. Figure 2.16 illustrates this.

Fig. 2.16: Transmission of two planes of polarization through the cavity. The Brewsters angle plate reduces the transmission for the vertically polarized component (red) while letting the horizontally polarized component (green) propagate freely. Although this reduces the cavity nesse for the red beam, there will still be some transmission. The analyzer itself is constructed in exactly the same way as described earlier (see gure 2.14). Giving a mathematical description of its operation is straightforward if a little tedious. The retarder plate will delay the projection of the wave projected to its slow axis by relative to the projection to its 4 fast axis. This can be expressed as a multiplication by the imaginary unit i. Afterwards the partial beams must be recombined and then split into dif-

2.3. Lock Signal


ferent projections when the resulting beam reaches the beam splitter. This way the eld amplitudes at its output ports can be found for varying amplitudes and phases of the orthogonal polarization components leaving the cavity. The following equations give the results for a quarter wave plate with its fast axis rotated 45from both the preferred plane of polarization for the lter in the cavity and the orientation of the beam splitter:
proj. on fast axis proj. on slow axis

Eoutver + Eouthor Eoutver Eouthor 2 2 EPD1/2 = (2.35) 2 1 1 EPD1/2 = Eoutver + Eouthor (2.36) 2 2 This works out to the following equations, where equation 2.26 has been used to nd the complex eld amplitudes Eoutver and Eouthor for the transmitted beams: EPD1 = EPD2 = 1+ 2 1+ 2 Einh 1 + fh e Einh
8d 8d

Einv 1 f fv e Einv

tA tB


tA tB , (2.38) 8d 1 fh e 1 + fv fbrw e where fv is the roundtrip factor for the vertical polarization and fh the roundtrip factor for the horizontal polarization component. If all other eects are assumed to be identical for both polarizations, then fv = fh fBrewster , where fBrewster is the reduction of electric eld amplitude caused by the Brewsters angle plate during one roundtrip. The horizontal polarization is assumed to pass through the plate unaected. The measured photodiode signals will now be proportional to EP D1/2 : UP D1 Einh 1 + fh e Einh 1 fh e
8d 8d

Einv 1 fv e Einv




1 + fv e



Taking the dierence Udif f = UP D1 UP D2 of these signals generates a dispersion shaped signal. This is shown in gure 2.17 along with the signals for the individual photodiodes. More on the technical implementation of the system can be found in chapter 3, some data on the actual shape of the locking signals in section 4.6. Having the equations for the theoretical shape of the error signal derived in this section makes it easier to understand the signals observed in the experiment and helps tune the various variables to optimize system performance. Figure 2.18 is given as an example of this. In the experiment, the glass plate

PD signal 0.06 0.05 0.04 0.03 0.02 0.01 780.001 PD signal 0.06 0.05 0.04 0.03 0.02 0.01 780.002 780.003

2. Theoretical Foundations



wavelength 780.0007 diff. signal 0.02 0.01 wavelength 780.0007 -0.01 -0.02 780.0008 780.0009 780.0008 780.0009

Fig. 2.17: Photodiode signals relative to the incident intensity over laser wavelength (top), magnied for a single resonance (middle). Dispersion shaped dierence signal for the same frequency range (bottom). All in arbitrary units. in the resonator introduces additional losses for the vertical polarization, resulting in a much lower maximum transmitted intensity for this contribution. It seems obvious that the amplitude of the error signal can be improved by adjusting the polarization of the beam fed into the cavity closer to vertical in order to compensate for these losses. Plotting the dierence signal for different input polarizations shows that this is not the case, however, and that the input polarization which generates the steepest slope at resonance, and therefore the best lock signal, is always at an angle of 45from the lter axis. This has been plotted in gure 2.18


Diode Lasers

Todays widespread use of lasers is in no small part due to the development of semiconductor (or diode) lasers. High eciency, small size and ease of use are only some of their advantages.

2.4. Diode Lasers


diff. signal 0.01 0.005 wavelength 780.0007 -0.005 -0.01 780.0008 780.0009

Fig. 2.18: Error signal for dierent input polarization. Angles (from red to blue): 0.05, 0.10, 0.15, 0.20, 0.25. For higher angles up to 0.5 the signal returns to zero in the same way. The experimental apparatus built in the course of my thesis also uses semiconductor lasers for some of these properties. A diode laser locked to a Rubidium vapor cell serves as a stable frequency reference and a second one is operated as a modulated, injected slave laser and serves as an integral part of the mechanism that transfer this stability to the dye laser.


The Master Laser

For the injected modulation system to work properly, a stable single-mode light source is necessary. For our experiment it is provided by an extended cavity laser diode that can be locked to a rubidium (Rb) vapor cell. The setup is basically the same as that described as Doppler free Dichroic Atomic Vapor Laser Lock (DAVLL) in [26]. Further details on this specic implementation can be found in [13].

Extended Cavity Laser Diodes

Normal laser diodes as used in CD-writers are optimized for maximum power output in CW or pulsed operation. The spectral quality is rarely an important factor for these applications, so these laser diodes will not usually operate single-mode, have linewidths of the order of 100MHz (see gure 2.19, taken from the datasheet for a Sharp GH0781RA2C diode again) and tuning is limited by mode hops as described in chapter One commonly used way to x this is to vary the cavity losses depending on wavelength by incorporating a grating into the resonator as shown in gure 2.20. Since most diodes simply use the cleaved faces of the semiconductor crystal to work as resonator mirrors, the additional feedback of the grating has a strong impact on their behavior. The system described in [27] uses a holographic grating providing 20% feedback into the laser with a 50mW diode to achieve stable single-mode operation. It has a tunable range of 8 GHz for simply moving the grating with a piezoceramic actuator. A linewidth of about


2. Theoretical Foundations

Fig. 2.19: Emission spectrum for a free running laser diode. (Sharp GH0781RA2C at 25C and 5mW output power, taken from the original datasheet available at http://sharpworld.com/products/device/lineup/opto/index.html

Fig. 2.20: Extended cavity laser diode created with a grating in Littrow conguration. The diracted beam of rst order is fed back into the diode. 350kHz on a timescale of 200ms is reported without additional stabilization techniques. This requires current noise to be kept to a few A. Spectroscopy

In order to operate the reference laser in our experiment at a stable frequency over a longer period as well as to decrease the linewidth even further, it is actively stabilized using a Doppler-free spectroscopy setup known as Dopplerfree DAVLL (Dichroic Atomic Vapor Laser Lock). This works by intersecting a probe beam with a counter-propagating pump beam inside a rubidium vapor cell (see gure 2.21). With the pump beam turned o, absorption will increase when the laser is tuned to a wavelength that is close to a transition of the rubidium atoms, which occur at around 780nm and 795nm as shown in 2.3. At or slightly above room temperature the vapor pressure of rubidium is high

2.4. Diode Lasers


Fig. 2.21: Doppler-free spectroscopy setup for locking the master laser to a Rubidium transition. Drawn with exaggerated angle of intersection inside the vapor cell. enough to see a clear spectroscopy signal, but the hyperne structure is completely washed out by Doppler broadening, resulting in a single absorption line of several hundred MHz linewidth. This is plotted as the red graph in gure 2.22. If the pump beam is turned on now, it will also be absorbed by the rubidium atoms, exciting them into a higher state. But since the lines are strongly Doppler broadened, this will only aect the part of the atomic population that has the right velocity relative to the pump beam so that it appears Doppler-shifted into resonance. Since pump and probe beam are counterpropagating, they will generally interact with dierent sets of atoms. But if the laser frequency coincides with the unshifted resonance, the pump beam will reduce the population of the ground state for the probe beam as well. One mechanism for this is the saturation of the absorption line, where the absorption and stimulated emission processes caused by the laser light dominate the spontaneous emission, leading to an nearly equal distribution of atoms in the ground and excited states, causing the gas to become more transparent for the probe beam. Another is the optical pumping of atoms into the other hyperne ground state (F=1 in this case), where they do not interact with any of the beams any more. The resulting dips in the absorption spectrum are called Lamb dips. The one marked (c) in the diagram is caused by saturation/depletion of the 5S1/2 (F = 2) 5P1/2 (F = 3) transition. The dips (a) and (b) are called crossover-transitions. They occur when the frequency of the incident light is exactly in the middle between the resonant frequency of two transitions with the same ground state. That way both beams will interact with the same population of atoms again. These will see one of the beams blue shifted to resonance with one transition and the other beam red shifted to another one. The Lamb dip used for the stabilization of the master laser is that of the (2,3) crossover for the 5S1/2 5P3/2 transition, with a frequency exactly in the middle between those of the 5S1/2 (F = 2) 5P3/2 (F = 2) and the 5S1/2 (F = 2) 5P3/2 (F = 3) transitions. There is another aspect of the laser locking mechanism that requires attention. The problems of locking to a transmission or absorption line have already


2. Theoretical Foundations

Fig. 2.22: Observed spectrum for the D2 lines of 87 Rb, with (black) and without (red) pump beam. Lamb dips: (a) (1,3) crossover transition, (b) (2,3) crossover, (c) transition to F=3 state. (From [13]) been mentioned in chapter 2.3. For the spectroscopy this is overcome by splitting the absorption signal into two parts that are shifted against each other. This gives a dispersion shaped locking signal in very much the same way as that shown in gure 2.17 for the cavity lock. This is achieved by winding a coil around the vapor cell and applying a magnetic eld in parallel to the beams. The linearly polarized light of the probe beam can then be treated as the superposition of the circularly polarized components + and . Each of these will drive a transition to a dierent Zeeman level, causing the absorption lines to be shifted towards each other. Due to the high total angular momentum of the states involved, the lines will not simply separate into two components, each of which is driven by one polarization component. Instead, a whole system of lines will appear, one for each of the transitions allowed by the selection rules. However, since + light will always drive a transition into a higher projected spin state and light always into a lower one, the lines will still be shifted, although there will also be additional broadening due to the unresolved additional lines. The polarization components are independently detected by using the same polarization analyzer setup used in the cavity lock, consisting of a /4 retarder plate and a polarizing beam splitter cube. The resulting photodiode signals are subtracted, resulting in a wide dispersion shaped signal created from the Doppler broadened absorption lines superimposed by a very similar signal, which is much narrower and of opposite sign. This is created by the oset Lamb dips and is used to lock the laser to the atomic transition. A complete spectrum taken with our system can be seen in gure 2.23. The steepness of the slope can be optimized by choosing a suitable magnetic eld to shift the Lamb dips with regard to each other. According to [13],

2.4. Diode Lasers


Fig. 2.23: Creating a dispersion shaped signal from two Zeeman shifted absorption spectra. From [13] (top: individual and dierence signals near the Lamb dip, bottom: full amplied signal and lock point)

detailed calculations shows a shift by 0.58 times the linewidth to yield the optimum steepness for a lorentzian line shape. Using the dierence signal decouples the resulting signal from intensity uctuations of the laser and the lock signal is also quite insensitive to stray magnetic elds and temperature variations. For a more detailed analysis see [26]. The testing system reported there uses a feedback loop to control both the grating of an extended-cavity laser and the driving current of the laser diode, working to counter slow (at up to 1kHz) and fast frequency changes respectively. It achieves an estimated linewidth of 350kHz when locked to the (2,3) crossover-transition of 85 Rb and of 120kHz for the stronger (3,4) transition.


2. Theoretical Foundations


Injection Locking

In normal laser operation, the noise of spontaneous emission serves as the seed for the amplication process that nally results in coherent emission. Sending an external signal into the resonator can have a huge inuence on this process, under certain conditions causing the laser to lock on to the frequency o the injected beam. A basic conguration to acheive this is shown in gure 2.24

Fig. 2.24: Basic setup for injection locking a laser diode. A small part of a stable injection (or seeding) beam is reected into the laser diode and causes it to emit an amplied beam at exactly the same wavelength. We use this to keep the slave laser system at the stable frequency obtained from the spectroscopy. This section will give a basic theoretical background for the underlying processes. Without any injected signal, the laser is assumed to run at a frequency 0 with an output intensity I0 . It can be shown that a second signal of frequency 1 will have an intensity gain from input to output of approximately gint = |g()|2
2 e , (1 0 )2


where e is the energy decay rate of the laser cavity. For more details on this and the equations in the following section, please see [24]. For injection far away from the free running frequency 0 a small signal at the frequency 1 will appear. Bringing both frequencies closer together will result in an increase of this signal, until it reaches an intensity which is comparable to the free running intensity I0 . Since this intensity is limited by saturation, both signals will begin competing for available gain. When 1 is brought even closer to 0 , the gain available for the free running signal will continue to fall until it drops below threshold and lasing at this wavelength will stop. Now all available power will be used in the amplication of the injected signal, which will run at an intensity practically equal to the free running value, possibly increased by the intensity of the injected light. This is illustrated in gure 2.25. As soon as equilibrium is reached, the laser will continue to emit light exactly at the frequency of the injection, as long as it stays in a certain range around

2.4. Diode Lasers


Fig. 2.25: Free running oscillation competing with the amplied injection signal as a function of the frequency oset between free running frequency and injected beam. Intensities of oscillation at the free running frequency 0 and at the injected frequency 1 plotted over 1 . From [24], p. 1133 0 . This range, dened to be the area where the amplied output for the incident signal reaches the full free running intensity, is called the injection locking range. It is approximately given by lock 2e E1 20 = E0 Qe I1 , I0 (2.42)

where E0 is the amplitude for the beam emitted without any incident light and E1 is the eld amplitude of the injected beam. I0 and I1 are the corresponding intensities. Qe is the Q-factor for the cavity without gain medium, which is an alternative to e in giving the cavity bandwidth. The most common way to describe the behavior of an injection locked laser is the so called Adler equation [24]: 0 E1 d(t) + 1 0 = sin (t) = m sin (t) , dt Qe E0 with m
0 E1 Qe E0


lock . 2

This has steady state solutions for the locking range above and reveals something interesting about the phase of the emitted beam: Just like in a forced oscillator, the resulting oscillation will always have the exact same frequency as the driving force (here: the injected beam) in a steady state solution, but its relative phase will vary depending on how far away the system is from resonance. Solving the equation above for the relative phase depending on


2. Theoretical Foundations

the frequency oset gives (1 ) = arcsin 0 1 , m (2.44)

which is plotted in 2.26 and will play a role in the explanation of the observed behaviour later.
phase shift 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 freq. 0.5 offset

-0.5 -0.4 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1 -0.2 -0.3 -0.4 -0.5





Fig. 2.26: Phase shift (in units of ) between injected and emitted beam for varying osets from the free running frequency, given in units of the locking range lock


Modulated Diode Lasers

Current-Dependency of Diode Laser Output

The output of a semiconductor laser can be conveniently modulated by changing the driving current. This works up to frequencies of several GHz [28] and is used here to generate an oset between the frequency obtained from the spectroscopy and the one used for stabilizing the cavity length. Varying the current on a free running laser diode will change both the internal temperature and the amount of charge injected into the semiconductor junction. This in turn inuences the band gap and Fermi energy as well as resonator length and index of refraction. The nal result is that for a given external temperature there is a current range where the frequency of the emitted light increases continuously with increasing current.

2.4. Diode Lasers


Reaching the end of this continuous tuning range, the laser will hop to the next resonator mode as the peak in the gain prole shifts faster than the mode of the resonator. The various eects can best be explained by looking at a diagram such as that given in gure 2.27

Fig. 2.27: Diagram showing several eects of varying the current on a laser diode. From laser diode application note 5 available at http://www.ilxlightwave.com, for one of their laser diodes which is not the same as used in the experiment. The dashed diagonal line shows the shift of the gain maximum for the active 1 medium depending on the driving current, with a slope of 1 , which is T typically around 0.25 nm . But even the very low nesse resonator formed C by the cleaved faces of the semiconductor crystal has resonance lines which are much narrower than the gain curve. Therefore the wavelength of the emitted light will change more slowly than the dashed line would suggest, nm 2 with a slope of 2 which is commonly around 103 mA . This continues until I the gain maximum moves closer to the next cavity resonance at which point the laser will suddenly jump about 125GHz in frequency (about 0.3nm for a 780nm or 850nm laser), corresponding to its cavity length of roughly 0.6mm. After this jump the laser wavelength will continue to shift at the slower rate again, until the next mode jump happens. Since these processes are controlled by the interdependent variables of junction temperature and drive current, and are also inuenced by variations in the properties of the junction as well as the exact geometry of the resonator, the points where mode jumps occur are impossible to predict for an untested


2. Theoretical Foundations

laser diode and will vary wildly even between devices from the same batch. There are also hysteresis eects, where the oscillating mode depends on the history of current and temperature as well as their momentary values. Output of a Modulated Laser Diode

The current-dependency of the laser diode output makes it possible to add a modulation by simply changing the driving current periodically. If only the output intensity was changing proportional to the change in current, this would add a periodic envelope to the oscillation of the electric eld in the laser beam. This can be expressed as the multiplication of two sine functions, one with the (optical) frequency of the laser and the other with the modulation frequency. Looking at the resulting spectrum would then show two sidebands oset from the free-running (fc ar for carrier) frequency of the laser by the modulation frequency, the heights of which depend on the strength of the amplitude modulation (AM). However, changing the driving current will also directly aect the wavelength of the emitted laser light. This will introduce an additional frequency modulation (FM) to the nal signal, with the extra complication that the relation between frequency and current is highly non-linear due to the modehops and hysteresis eects. While this greatly complicates a detailed analysis, some basic laws of Fourier theory provide an insight into the form the spectrum of a current-modulated laser diode can have. Since optical frequencies (in the THz range) are much higher than typical modulation frequencies (up to several GHz), the resulting function for the electric eld in the laser beam will be eectively periodic with the modulation frequency. According to the sampling theorem, all frequency components in a truly periodic signal will be multiples of the signals repetition frequency and therefore the spectrum will consist of a series of sidebands, oset from the lasers free running frequencies by multiples of the modulation frequency. Due to the presence of an amplitude modulated component and the spectrum of an ordinary frequency modulated signal, the expected spectrum would consist of strong rst order sidebands oset at the modulation frequency (fmod ) and several higher order sidebands at integer multiples of fmod , with amplitudes falling o rapidly with increasing oset from fcar . Because of the instability of the unstabilized laser diode, we have not been able to measure a spectrum to conrm this. Modulating an Injection-locked Laser

The setup described here uses a laser diode that is both modulated and injection locked at the same time. The injection stabilizes the operation of the

2.4. Diode Lasers


laser diode, while the modulation makes it possible to create a new reference oscillation at a variable oset from the frequency obtained from the rubidium spectroscopy. Modulating an injection-locked laser changes the situation described in the previous section. As long as the modulation does not move the free running frequency more than half the locking range away from that of the stable injection beam, the laser will continue to run with the exact same frequency. Only the intensity of the emission will change. This has a much simpler dependence on current, however, and can be treated as linear provided it stays above the threshold current and below the maximum allowed level. Figure 2.28 is taken from the datasheet1 of a Sharp GH0781RA2C laser diode with a maximum CW power output of 120mW to demonstrate this.

Fig. 2.28: Power output for a Sharp GH0781RA2C semiconductor laser diode depending on driving current given for dierent temperatures. Adding a sinusoidal modulating current to a constant driving current results in a basic amplitude modulated (AM) system. In this simplest case symmetric sidebands will be added to the output signal, their separation from the original line or carrier frequency given by the modulation frequency and their relative height depending on the amplitude of the modulation compared to the static current. The plots shown in gure 2.29 show the application of Fourier theory to this situation. In the actual experiment the main oscillation occurs at optical frequencies in the THz range. The modulation happens at a frequency around 1GHz. Because these frequencies are too dierent to result in legible plots, the exemplary treatment will be done for frequencies of fmod =1GHz and fcar =15GHz. Modulation can be described in terms of multiplying the carrier wave by a

available at http://sharp-world.com/products/device/lineup/opto/index.html


2. Theoretical Foundations

temporally varying envelope as shown in the second diagram. The simples case would be simple multiplication of two trigonometric functions [20] 1 (cos (fcar fmod ) t + cos (fcar + fmod ) t) 2 (2.45) resulting in a spectrum that consists of only two frequency components oset from the original carrier frequency by the frequency of the modulation. cos fmod t cos fcar t = However, this mathematically simple case is unphysical in our experimental setup. The injected laser diode essentially serves as an amplier for the signal of the injected beam. The amplication will be high when the driving current is at its maximum, and it may drop to zero if the current falls below the threshold value for the laser diode. But at no time will there be a multiplication of the original signal by a negative factor. In order to model this, an oset has to be added to the envelope function to keep it positive. In the following, the laser diode to emit a beam oscillating between 20% and 100% of maximum output power: Pout (t) = (0.6 + 0.4 cos fmod t) cos fcar t (2.46)

This can be reordered into a sum of trigonometric functions by using equation 2.45. Pout (t) = 0.6 cos fcar t + 0.4 cos fmod t cos fcar t = 0.6 cos fcar t + 0.2(cos (fcar fmod ) t + cos (fcar + fmod ) t) (2.47) In this case there will still be a component remaining at the carrier frequency in addition to the sidebands already found above. Their relative height depends on the depth of the modulation. It is obvious that for this kind of amplitude modulation that sidebands can never have a height of more than half the carrier, which will occur if the laser is modulated all the way from maximum output to zero. It is possible to measure these spectra directly by measuring the transmission of a scanning optical resonator. The detector used for this will create a signal propertional intensity of the transmitted light, and therefore to the square of the amplitude calculated here. This leads to the expectation that the sidebands should have a maximum of 25% of the carrier intensity. Nevertheless, the spectra taken in our experiment often show signals where the sidebands reach 70% of carrier intensity or even more. The intensities of the corresponding sidebands also tends to be highly unequal. The remainder of this chapter will introduce a model that attempts to explain these observations. Since part of that model relies on Fourier theory, it will be helpful to rederive the results found above in that context. Figure 2.29 helps illustrate this. The fourier transform of the carrier signal, modelled by a cosine is a set of two delta functions with coecients 0.5 (half the original signals amplitude

2.4. Diode Lasers


1 0.5 t 0.2 -0.5 -1 1 0.4 0.6 0.8 1


t 0.2 -0.5 0.4 0.6 0.8 1


























Fig. 2.29: Finding the frequency components for an amplitude modulated signal. Relative amplitudes over time [in ns] or frequency [in GHz]. Top to bottom: carrier, envelope (red) and modulated signal (green), transform of carrier, transform of envelope, transform of modulated signal


2. Theoretical Foundations

of 1) at the frequencies fcar = 15GHz and +fcar = 15GHz. The envelope has two similar components, at fenv = 1GHz and fenv = 1GHz, with an amplitude of 0.2, half of the original amplitude of 0.4. In addition it has another delta function at zero frequency with a coecient of 0.6 corresponding to the oset added to keep the envelope positive. These spectra are shown in the third and forth diagrams. The nal spectrum AAM (f ) can be found by calculating the Fourier transform of the product of carrier and envelope: aAM (t) = aenv (t) acar (t) F T AAM (f ) (2.48)

It is convenient to apply the convolution theorem (see [29]) to this problem. It states that a multiplication in the time domain is equivalent to a convolution in the frequency domain. The transforms of carrier and envelope have already been described above to be acar (t) F T Acar (f ) = 0.5 (f + fcar ) + 0.5 (f fcar ) Using the convolution theorem AAM (f ) = Amod (f ) Acar (f ) = 0.1(f + fcar + fmod + 0.3(f + fcar + 0.1(f + fcar fmod + 0.1(f fcar + fmod + 0.3(f fcar + 0.1(f fcar fmod , as shown in the lowest graph of gure 2.29. Extending the Theoretical Model (2.49)

amod (t) F T Amod (f ) = 0.2 (f + fcar ) + 0.6 (f ) + 0.2 (f fcar ) (2.50)

This section will oer several possible explanations for the spectra found in the experiment, in particular the unexpected heigth of the sidebands and their asymmetry. A way to generate a signal with very high sidebands would be to increase the amplitude of the modulation envelope to values higher than its oset. In the experiment this would correspond to the diode current falling below threshold for part of the cycle. Any further reduction will have no eect, so the envelope will remain xed at zero for part of the cycle instead of going negative. This will increase sideband amplitude but also create additional sidebands at multiples of the modulation frequency. Mathematically, xing parts of the waveform at zero can be expressed as a multiplication by a square wave. Since the transform of such a wave consists of a series of delta functions spaced at the modulation frequency, the convolution corresponding to the multiplication in the time-domain will impose additional sidebands on the nal spectrum. Another way to account for the high sidebands is amplication by the active medium in the laser diode. In this scenario, the laser is essentially seeding itself with the sidebands.

2.4. Diode Lasers


Vestigial Sideband Operation

A fascinating eect that occurs in the experiment is that if the oset current is set just right, one of the sidebands will almost disappear, transferring its intensity to the remaining one, which will reach an amplitude almost identical to that of the carrier. In radio transmission, signals with similar spectra are often used to reduce the power required for transmission. If only traces of one of the sidebands created by modulating the carrier wave remain, it is called vestigial. In the following this term will be extended to the domain of optical frequencies. Operating the laser with a vestigial sideband is very useful for the locking mechanism due to the power transferred to the interesting sideband and is consequently used in the normal operation of the system. This section will try to explain what this eect is based on, even though the process is quite complex and not easily analyzed mathematically. Looking at the time domain function corresponding to a spectrum consisting of two lines gives the rst hints what kind of eects could cause the observed change in the spectrum. The waveform (see gure 2.30) is that of the product of two cosines, one at the carrier and one at the modulation frequency. This cannot be reproduced directly, however, since it requires the envelope to become negative. An equivalent interpretation of the same function would be to take the absolute value of the envelope and introduce a phase shift of into the carrier wave (initially as drawn in black) for half of the modulation cycle.


t 0.2 -0.5 0.4 0.6 0.8 1


Fig. 2.30: Time domain waveform for a two-line spectrum This is not quite what happens in the experiment. For one thing, a big, abrupt phase jump like that would be hard to explain. Furthermore, as was explained before, this would cause the carrier to vanish instead of one of the sidebands, resulting in two emission lines separated by twice the modulation frequency. It points in the right direction, though. One of our current theories is that the disappearance of the sideband is caused by the interplay between amplitude modulation and the phase modulation caused by the change in free running laser frequency at dierent driving currents. This creates a shift in phase even for injected operation, since the relative phase of the resulting beam depends on the frequency dierence between free running and injected frequency as shown in gure 2.26.


2. Theoretical Foundations

When the current is tuned to the vicinity of a mode hop of the laser diode, a considerable phase jump occurs twice per modulation cycle as the laser current is scanned back and forth across the mode hop. This creates the conditions necessary for vestigial sideband operation, but it is only the rst part of the explanation. Since the absolute values for the fourier coecients of a real valued signal will always be equal for positive and negative frequencies, an asymmetry in the spectrum can only be achieved by superimposing several components with a dierent rotation in the complex plane, which can be achieved by shifting their phase. This is related to a technique for generating a single sideband radio signal, named phase shift method (or quadrature amplitude modulation) [30].It works by adding a regular AM signal to a signal generated by shifting both carrier and signal by , schematically shown in gure 2.31. 2

Fig. 2.31: Schematic for generating a single sideband signal by the phase-shift method. From [30]. In the top branch the modulation signal is multiplied by the carrier signal directly, while in the lower branch both signals are shifted by /2 before multiplication. Adding both partial signals together creates a single-sideband signal. This is called single-sideband modulation (SSM) by the phase shift method. The easiest way to understand how energy can be shifted between sidebands under certain circumstances is to do a fourier transform on an example signal and try to nd out which initial parameters will have what eect. Figure 2.32 shows the construction of a suitable waveform. It is made up of one cosine (blue) and one sine (red) function at a frequency of 15GHz as carrier waves. A periodic phase shift is generated by changing the relative weight of the functions through multiplication with an envelope constructed from a cosine at 1GHz. This generates a primarily phase-modulated signal printed purple in the lower diagram. There is also some amount of amplitude modulation, but the advantage of this construction is the restriction to trigonometric functions, resulting in a very simple spectrum. The resulting

2.4. Diode Lasers

1 0.5 t 0.5 -0.5 -1 1 0.5 t 0.5 -0.5 -1 1 1.5 2 1 1.5 2


Fig. 2.32: Construction of a signal for vestigial sideband operation (VSB) from basic trigonometric functions functions for the red and the blue contribution are: fblue (t) = cos (2 fcar t) (0.5 0.5 cos (2 fmod t)) fred (t) = sin (2 fcar t) (0.5 + 0.5 cos (2 fmod t)) , (2.51) (2.52)

where fcar is the carrier frequency and fmod is that for the modulation. The combined signal is now multiplied with another envelope function (black), which is slightly delayed to give a phase shift of with regard to the envelope functions. Adjusting this shift causes the rotation of the components in the complex plane according to the shift theorem [29]. A phase shift like this might occur in the actual experiment due to the fact that gain of the laser diode is linked to the number of electrons injected into the conduction band directly, while the emitted wavelength normally follows the temperature-induced changes in resonator length. This is likely to lag behind the modulation of the amplication factor due to the heat capacity of the diode. We do not currently have any data that might conrm or rule this out, however. Because all the components used in creating the function are trignonometric functions, the transform will consist of a set of delta functions: S(f ) = c1 (f + fcarr + 2fmod ) + c2 (f + fcarr + 1fmod ) +c3 (f + fcarr ) + c4 (f + fcarr 1fmod ) +c5 (f + fcarr 2fmod ) + c6 (f fcarr + 2fmod ) +c7 (f fcarr + 1fmod ) + c8 (f fcarr ) +c9 (f fcarr 1fmod ) + c10 (f fcarr 2fmod )


Since this function is the convolution of all the individual transforms of the base function, the frequencies for the delta peaks are combinations of the carrier frequency and up to twice the modulation frequency. The fact that both the envelope and the phase variation have the same frequency leads to a mixing of components with dierent phase shifts for the frequencies f = fcarr and f = fcarr fmod .


2. Theoretical Foundations

Working through the calculations gives the coecients c1 to c10 as shown in table 2.1. coecient c1 c2 c3 c4 c5 c6 c7 c8 c9 c10 value 1 sin ) + 2 ( cos + sin ) (+ cos sin 1) + ( cos sin 1) ( cos + 2) + ( cos 2) (+ cos + sin 1) + ( cos + sin 1) 1 1 ( cos + sin ) + 2 ( cos sin ) 2 1 1 ( cos + sin ) + 2 (+ cos + sin ) 2 (+ cos + sin 1) + (+ cos sin + 1) ( cos + 2) + (+ cos + 2) (+ cos sin 1) + (+ cos + sin + 1) 1 1 ( cos sin ) + 2 (+ cos sin ) 2
1 ( cos 2

Tab. 2.1: Relative fourier coecients for the test function, scaled by a factor of roughly 6.4. As expected, the coecients for the negative frequencies are the complex conjugate of the ones for the corresponding positive frequencies. This is a good check for the calculations, as this Hermitian quality is required in the transform of a real valued function.
0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 phi



Fig. 2.33: Relative amplitudes of carrier (black) and rst order sidebands (red and green) for a varying phase oset (in units of ) of the envelope as cescribed in the text. Dropping any phase information, the absolute values describe the eld amplitudes of the detected lines. A plot of the positive frequency components is shown in gure 2.33. For the parameters chosen here, a phase oset of would generate a signal 2 with only one sideband present, which has the same amplitude as the carrier. In addition to that, two other bands appear, oset from the carrier by twice the modulation frequency, with an amplitude that is independent of the envelope phase. The carrier amplitude also undergoes some uctuations as is varied, but this is of little relevance to the experiment and may simply be due to the way the phase modulated signal was modeled.

2.4. Diode Lasers

relative 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 f Intensity




Fig. 2.34: Simulated spectrum for an envelope phase oset of 0.3 as given by the calculations in this chapter. Frequency measured relative to the carrier frequency fcar , with a modulation fmod = 1. It would be interesting to analyze in more detail whether this model can describe how the various properties of the diode interact under modulation. A particular point to investigate would be whether the measured signals correpond to a continuous phase modulation as modelled here or whether a hard jump in phase might be a better description. Such a jump might be occur as the laser is scanned over a mode hop. This might even show an additional lag relative to the modulation due to hysteresis eects. A good place to start further investigation would be measurements of the eects of varying the intensity injected into the modulated laser diode, as this would change the shift between injected and emitted phase without aecting the mode hops. But since no specic experiments have been done yet to determine all this, the considerations in this chapter will be left standing as a theoretical model that might explain how the intensity can be shifted from one sideband to the other. Its basic properties are in agreement with what is observed in the experiment (see gures 2.34 and 2.35).

Usignal [mV] 35

2. Theoretical Foundations






Uscan [V] 5 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Fig. 2.35: Spectrum measured in transmission through the cavity for the injected, modulated slave laser. Signal repeats at the free spectral range of 750MHz. fmod = 543.33MHz, therefore the components highlighted actually belong to dierent repetitions. (Curve averaged over ve measurements and smoothed by a 5 point running-mean) Sideband Injection

Another eect that can occur in a modulated, injected system, either individually or in conjunction with the vestigial sideband operation described above, is injection into one of the sidebands. This describes a situation where injection locked behavior of the slave laser occurs although the injection is outside of the locking range. This happens when the free running frequency is adjusted so that one of the sidebands almost or fully coincides with the injected beam. The resulting spectrum will be similar to the modulated spectrum of the free-running laser, but it will gain the stability characteristic for injected operation. What happens in this case, is that the gain at the injection frequency is too low for the injection to cause saturation for other frequencies, which prevents normal locked operation. The laser will emit light primarily at the free running frequency, with an additional small component corresponding to the injection as shown in gure 2.25. But as long as there is some amount of gain in the active medium, even if it is not enough to overcome the round trip losses, this component will be amplitude modulated. If the modulation frequency is bigger than at least half the locking range, one of the resulting sidebands can be very close to the gain maximum of the laser diode and cause injected operation although its amplitude is likely to be small. This can be understood by realizing that the sidebands will actually create photons for frequencies oset from that of the carrier. With these the laser essentially

2.4. Diode Lasers


seeds itself. Given enough modulation and injection power, it is even possible for this process to repeat itself until nally the frequency reaches a value close enough to the free-running frequency for locked operation to set in. This will appear as an injection into a higher-order sideband. Commonly the only indication that this is happening is an asymmetry in the spectrum, where the injection beam adds additional intensity to the sidebands on one side of the carrier. This also makes sideband injection a competing process for the vestigial sideband operation described in the previous chapter.

3. Construction
3.1 Overview

After the theoretical background has been given now, this chapter will describe the actual setup of the laser system. Figure 3.1 shows a schematic overview of the complete system.

Fig. 3.1: Schematic of the entire setup. Red and green arrows correspond to 780nm or 556nm laser beams, respectively. Blue arrows indicate electronic signals. In the following sections the individual parts will be described in detail.


Master Laser

The master laser is a self-built extended cavity laser (see section, using a Sharp GH0781RA2 diode with additional feedback provided by a 1800 lines/mm holographic grating from Edmund Scientic (article no. NT43-775) in Littrow conguration. A Peltier element provides temperature control and stabilization. Both the current for the Peltier and the driving current for the laser diode are controlled by an ITC102 laser diode controller available from Thorlabs. The grating angle can be changed by a piezoceramic actuator. This combination of factors allows for single-mode operation in a wavelength band several nm wide, with a continuous tuning range of 1-2 GHz by moving


3. Construction

the grating. Output power of the grating-stabilized diode laser is approximately 45mW to 50mW at a driving current of up to 115mA. A glass plate splits o part of the emitted laser beam for the spectroscopy setup. This uses the Doppler-free DAVLL system described in section and implemented as shown in gure 3.2.

Fig. 3.2: Master laser system with Doppler-free spectroscopy and split-o seeding beam for the slave laser. The light emitted by the laser is split into three components by sending it through a glass plate with an antireective coating on one side. The main part (A) passes through the plate and is used as the repumper for rubidium in the main experiment. The weak reection on the coated surface (B) is used to inject the slave laser, while the stronger reection (C, at about 4% incident intensity) on the pure glass surface is used for spectroscopy. A polarizing beam splitter with a rotatable /2-plate in front of it separates the light into pump and probe beams. Both are sent through polarizing foil to remove any residual circular polarization components. The vapor cell is a sealed glass cuvette that contains some rubidium and is wound with approximately 24 windings per cm operated at a current of 1A. At this current the splitting of the Zeeman-levels that was explained in chapter results in a good signal-to-noise ratio for the lock signal. No additional heating is required, as the vapor pressure is high enough to generate a useable spectroscopy signal even at room temperature. The output of the dierence amplier is used as error signal in a PI-loop that directly drives the grating piezo. At the moment there is no feedback to the drive current of the diode, which limits the bandwidth of the feedback loop to values below the resonant frequency of the piezo-grating-assembly, which is in the low kHz range. The injection beam (B) has an intensity of roughly 100W . It is refocused by

3.3. Slave Laser


a f=300mm plano-convex lens and coupled into a single-mode ber leading to the slave laser assembly. The lens has a distance of approximately 25cm from the grating and 20cm from the ber coupler. The ber ensures a stable position and mode for injection into the slave laser.


Slave Laser

The slave laser consists of another Sharp GH0781RA2 laser diode mounted on a Peltier element for temperature control. Both Peltier and diode current are controlled by a second controller. This way the free-running frequency can be adjusted until the injected beam is inside the locking range (see section 2.4.2). If mode-matching and alignment of the beams is good enough, the emitted beam will have the same stability and linewidth as the master laser. In order to achieve this, the beam from the ber is focussed by an f=250mm lens and part of it is injected into the laser using the reection from a glass plate with a 20nm silver coating protected by a 10nm MgF2 -layer. Measurements show that this provides about 84% reectivity and 10.5% transmission. A /2 retarder plate and polarizing foil on rotating mounts allow adjustments of polarization and intensity. The whole system is shown in gure 3.3

Fig. 3.3: Slave laser system with basic mode-matching. Lens1 is positioned 17cm from the ber coupler and 18cm from the laser diode, lens2 at 25cm from the diode and 27cm from the cavity. The high reectivity of the coated glass plate reduces the available output power. But since the power available for the seeding beam is currently very


3. Construction

small, this is required to achieve stable injected operation. An alternative to this might be the use of a lower power laser diode as the slave, which according to equation 2.42 would require less injected power. This would allow for a higher transmission of the beam splitter, resulting in a higher overall output power. The drawback would be a higher sensitivity to feedback from the cavity which is also reduced by the splitter plate. Operating the currently used laser diode very close to threshold might have a similar eect. In order to optimize injection performance, the following steps are taken periodically: Rotate polarizing foil to maximize transmission of light from the freerunning slave laser as measured before the light enters the ber. This should only be neccessary if the ber has been moved. While measuring the intensity of the light transmitted through the ber from the master laser, adjust focussing lens and mirror alignment on the master laser side. Maximize intensity reaching the slave laser by adjusting the retarder plate without changing the polarizer orientation. Optimize the intensity of the slave lasers light going backwards through the ber by adjusting the ber coupler and glass plate. This creates sucient mode matching between the beams in our case. Adapting the circular output of the ber to the elliptical mode of the laser diode has not proven necessary so far. After adjusting the temperature to bring the emitted wavelength of the diode to the desired range, the diode current is adjusted until the injected light is in the locking range, causing the emitted light of the slave laser to remain stable at the injection wavelength. This is most easily visible by looking at the transmitted intensity of the cavity while scanning its length with the piezo. A slow change in the laser current will cause the observed lines to shift on the oscilloscope as the wavelength changes. Entering the locking range, there is a slight instability rst, after which the line will stop moving for small changes in diode current. Finally, the signal will become unstable again, returning to the slowly shifting behavior for a further change in current. The eects are particularly visible when the diode is operated just barely over its threshold current of approximately 30mA. In this case even small optical feedback will make the system unstable, causing the signal on the oscilloscope to jump while the laser does not operate single-mode, possibly completely washing out into a at, broad background. The switch to locked operation is very obvious then, appearing as a sudden return of a clear, unmoving signal of noticeably higher amplitude. Currently there is stable locked operation for an injected power at the laser of 36W (from 75W exiting the ber). The slave diode is operated at 48.7mA

3.4. Modulation System


and 16C, yielding 11mW of output power, 1.05mW of which nally reach the cavity. These numbers are already for modulated operation, however.


Modulation System

The modulation system serves to create sidebands in the slave lasers output, providing a variable oset that allows stabilization of the cavity at almost any desired length instead of being limited to multiples of master /4 (see chapter 2.2.2). The system is set up as shown in gure 3.4.

Fig. 3.4: Schematic of the modulation system A voltage controlled oscillator (Mini-Circuits ZOS-1025) is used to generate a range of modulation frequencies. This particular unit is capable of outputting frequencies between 550MHz and 1060MHz at a power of around 8dBm. This signal is then amplied by a Mini-Circuits ERA-5 amplier. Operating this at its power limits will introduce a certain degree of compression in the signal. Since the short-term frequency stability of the VCO is in the low kilohertz range, however, the resulting loss in spectral clarity is tolerable. Now the maximum power of the modulation signal is between 15dBm and 18dBm, depending on frequency. The modulation is added to the DC driving current immediately before the diode by a Mini-Circuits PBTC-3G bias-tee. The high modulation power generates sidebands with an amplitude comparable to the carrier although no particular steps are taken to ensure impedance matching between the radio frequency components and the diode.


3. Construction

To keep the frequency generated by the VCO stable, its control current is generated by a self-built driver box that is designed to have a high degree of thermal stability. Voltage noise is ltered down to below 1mV. The VCOdriver also has the capability to reduce the supply voltage from 12V down to 6V in order to lower modulation power and sideband height. A schematic is given in A.2 and performance data can be found in section 4.4.1. The actual frequency is monitored on an external counter connected to the secondary output of the VCO. In order to minimize losses, all the radio-frequency components are mounted on a board directly on top of the laser casing to keep connections short.


Green Laser System

The green laser beam is generated by a TekhnoScan Ametist-SF-07, a linear CW dye laser. It contains a birefringent (Lyot) lter, a thin etalon and a thin absorbing lm (TAF) mode selector, allowing for stable single mode operation and a wide tuning range. The free-running linewidth without any additional stabilization is approximately 10MHz. In normal operation the rough wavelength is set using the birefringent lter and then ne-tuned by adjusting the resonator length with a piezoelectric actuator. The combination of etalon and TAF selector then introduces extra losses for undesired longitudinal modes, reducing their total gain to below the lasing threshold if everything is set properly. For electronic control of the laser wavelength, the birefringent lter and the etalon are left unchanged, while the TAF selector is adjusted automatically to keep the laser output at a local maximum. This is done by modulating its position at 2.5kHz and analyzing the change in laser output with a synchronous detector. This way the laser continues to operate single mode while the resonator length is controlled by an external input 1 . The tuneable range without mode jumps can be up to several GHz. However, the modulation lock limits the bandwidth for direct stabilization of the laser. The laser is pumped by 2.5W of power from a Verdi V10 diode pumped solid state laser internally frequency doubled to emit at 532nm wavelength. It uses Rhodamin 110 (from Radiant Dyes) dissolved in ethylenglycol, absorbing around 75% of the pump beam. Maximum output power at 556nm has been slightly below 40mW, typical values are around 30mW.

Our laser is an early model and originally had both the external input and the stabilization circuit work on the resonator. It required a slight modication to the control box before it operated in the way described here. To my knowledge, this has been xed in newer models.

3.5. Green Laser System


Fig. 3.5: Setup of the green laser system. Distance from lens to laser is approximately 110cm, from lens to cavity 22cm. The rest of the setup is laid out in gure 3.5. Glass plates serve to split o fractional beams for the dye lasers TAF-lock and for the wavemeter used to monitor the wavelength. Two polarizing beam splitter cubes are used in combination with rotatable /2-plates to control the relative intensities sent to experiment, cavity and an ytterbium spectroscopy cell. The latter is not currently in use, as the spectral resolution of the current setup is insucient to stabilize the laser wavelength to it. The polarization of the light used to lock the laser to the cavity can be adjusted with another /4-plate. The light enters the stabilization cavity slightly o-axis, resulting in a V-shaped beam conguration as shown in the schematic view (in gure 3.5). Besides reducing feedback into the laser, this allows picking out one of the transmitted beams for the analyzer with a small silver coated mirror without blocking the red beam from the slave laser (see section 3.3). Although this is not implemented yet, the beam sent to the experiment is supposed to be switched by an acousto-optic-modulator in double pass conguration. This would also allow the frequency to be tuned by some tens of MHz, making it easier to measure a spectrum or to oset the frequency if a desired value cannot be reached directly. In order to extract the returning beam, it is sent through a quarter-wave plate twice on its way. Upon returning to the beam splitter cube, the polarization will have changed from horizontal to vertical, causing the beam to pass straight through the cube


3. Construction

towards the main experiment. Although this separation is not perfect, feedback is unlikely to be a problem, as the frequency o the returning light will be dierent by more than 100MHz.


Stabilization Cavity

The cavity is constructed from Invar alloy to reduce the eects of thermal expansion. Its main part, the body, consists mainly of a cylinder 30mm in diameter with a longitudinal hole of 10mm. Both ends of the cylinder carry mirror assemblies spaced such that the mirrored surfaces are exactly 100mm apart, corresponding to their radius of curvature. As described in section 2.2.2, this confocal arrangement provides degenerate transversal modes as well as stable operation for o-axis incidence. Even more critical than the distance of the mirrors is their proper alignment. If one or both focal points do not lie on the axis connecting the mirrors, the light will not return exactly to its point of entry. These errors will add up until the beam misses the mirror altogether, thereby introducing additional loss and lowering the nesse of the resonator. If the angle of misalignment is big enough, the light will even be lost without overlapping at all. This will prevent any interference eects, leading to a situation where the cavity transmission is completely described by the product of the mirrors transmission coecients. To prevent this from happening, the mirrors are not xed to the resonator body directly, but are glued to mirror holders instead, which are metal rings that can be shifted transversally. They are being held in place by locking rings, as indicated in gure 3.6. These in turn are xed to the cavity body by three M3 screws in a triangular pattern, only one of which is visible in the cross-section diagram. The mirror holders have small cut-outs where they are closest to the screws, allowing for a total range of movement of about 2mm in each direction. One of the mirror assemblies is more complicated, as it includes a 3mm slice of a piezoceramic tube bought from Piezomechanik. This is used to vary the length of the resonator. It is isolated from the metal rings by thin mica plates for safety as well as to prevent short-circuiting. The wire connected to the inside electrode is brought to the outside of the cavity through a small channel in the mirror holder. The whole construction has a resonance frequency of several kHz and makes it possible to vary the resonator length by about 700nm with a maximum applied voltage of 500V. The mirrors are silver coated with a thickness of 60nm and 70nm. This results in theoretical reectivities of 97.7% and 98.0% respectively. Measured values are close to these at around 97.5%, leading to an expected nesse F 62. Measuring the actual nesse by analyzing transmitted intensity while scanning the cavity length yields results closer to F = 10, however. A possible reason for this reduction would be a mismatch of mirror distance and radius

3.7. Analyzer Assemblies


Fig. 3.6: Cross-section of the cavity, drawn to scale. of curvature, lifting the degeneracy of the transversal modes. This would smear out the resonance line in a way similar to what is observed. An estimate for this is given in section 4.5. One indication that this might be the case is that inserting the Brewsters angle plate does not cause a signicant change in nesse. If the broadening was due to losses caused by mirror imperfections or the beam clipping on some feature of the resonator, then the additional losses introduced by the glass plate would increase the eect. The Brewster plate is a piece of a thin glass microscope slide. It is mounted to a attened section of a circular plug and can be inserted into a matching hole drilled into the top of the cavity. This keeps the position stable and allows the angle to be adjusted to optimize the signal from the analyzers. Finally the whole cavity assembly is xed to a post to mount it on the optical table.


Analyzer Assemblies

The relative phase of the transmitted polarization components is turned into a dispersion-shaped lock signal as described in section 2.3. The actual analyzer assembly consists of a polarizing beam splitter cube and two BPW34 photodiodes mounted in a small metal box with a 1cm hole to let the light in. A piece of Edmund Optics quarter wave retarder foil is mounted in front of this opening. It serves to convert the circular polarization components in the light from the cavity into linearly polarized components that can then be detected with the help of the cube. Figure 3.5 shows the general layout. Theory shows that the optimum angle for the quarter wave retarder plate in front of the cube will always be 45 between the main polarization axes and the fast axis of the plate.


3. Construction

However, in reality the dierence in optical paths between fast and slow axis will never be exactly /2. This makes it possible (and sometimes necessary) to adjust the angle to correct imbalances in the light distribution to the two photodiodes, which would otherwise degrade the lock signal. To be able to do so, a rotating mount is used. The retarder foil is xed to a wedge shaped from a sheet of thin aluminum, creating an angle between the plane of the foil and the direction of the incident beam that is designed to adjust the wavelength where the foil works as a true /4 retarder to the respective laser wavelength as suggested by the Edmund Optics catalog. The wedge is glued to the rotating side of the mount, the box containing cube and photodiodes to its back. In order to simplify optical alignment as well as to save space, the electronics of the dierence amplier are in a second metal box, which is grounded to reduce interference eects. The setup for the green analyzer was originally identical. But when operating both lasers simultaneously, its dierence signal was showing an oset depending on the intensity of the red light present, but ranging up to the magnitude of the green signal itself. The reason for this is that although the paths of the red and green beams are separated as much as possible, some scattered red light will reach the green detector. This can be assumed to mostly linearly polarized and should therefore have no eect on the dierence signal. But since the conversion between circular and linear polarization does not work equally well for all wavelengths, part of the incident stray light will emerge from the retarder plate in the form of linearly polarized component that is not aligned along the diagonal of the beam splitter cube and will therefore mainly be directed to one of the photodiodes. This creates an oset on the green dierence signal that depends on the intensity of the red laser (and on the red signal for the green laser), not only shifting the lockpoint for the feedback loop, but also generating additional noise on the signal from amplitude uctuations of the other laser system and should therefore be minimized. The eect is stronger for the green detector since a higher intensity of red light is necessary to get a good signal despite the distribution of power over several sidebands. To counteract the eect, the entire detector assembly for green light is attached to the rotating side of the rotatable mount so that the cube itself can be oriented at a 45 angle to the remaining polarization. Wedge and foil are mounted with a xed angle with the fast axis of the tilted retarder foil rotated 45from the vertical. Taking full advantage of this reduction in the error signal will require precise alignment of the incident beam and the analyzer assembly so that the beam intersects the active plane inside the cube in the same point as the axis of rotation. This has not been fully achieved yet, causing the partial beams to move away from the photodiodes as the assembly is rotated. Finally, both dierence ampliers contain a simple, passive low-pass lter

3.7. Analyzer Assemblies


that can be switched on or o. For the analyzer operating on the red light the cut-o frequency is designed to be 10Hz. This follows the reasoning that while any drifts of the resonator length are likely to happen on a timescale measured in seconds, this sensor has shown the tendency to pick up strong 50Hz noise from the uorescent room lights. The detector for the green beam only shows 50Hz noise to a lesser extent. Its lter serves to prevent resonant oscillation in the feedback loop of the dye laser. The cut-o frequency here is designed to be 1kHz, which will also reduce the possibility that the feedback will have unwanted eects on the lasers TAF-lock, which utilizes a modulation frequency of 2.5kHz.

4. System Characteristics
4.1 About Linewidths

The spectrum from any kind of oscillator always has some kind of peak, or line, at the main frequency of oscillation. Observation at a high enough resolution will show that this is never just an innitely narrow line, but that it extends over a certain frequency range, where the width of the peak is called the linewidth. For lines with a simple shape it will often be given as the FWHM, the Full Width at Half Maximum. But, as illustrated in gure 4.1, the shape can also be quite complex. In this case a simplied mathematical function is often tted to the actual data in order to give a meaningful description of its width. In the following sections this t function

Fig. 4.1: Exemplary line shape. From Minicircuits datasheet VCO Phase noise, available at http://www.minicircuits.com. will commonly be a Gaussian due to its mathematical simplicity: Pgauss (f ) = e(
f f0 w

) ,


where f gives the center frequency and w describes the width of the line. Unless mentioned otherwise, all measured signals will be powers or intensities. At a frequency f + w the signal has fallen to 1/e of the maximum. When this width is used in the following it will be explicitly referred to as the Gaussian width, to distinguish it from the FWHM. Since approximately e0.6931 = 0.5, the Gaussian falls o to 0.5 its maximum value at a frequency oset f1/2 = 0.8326w, corresponding to a FWHM of 1.665w. Finally, for measurements where frequencies are being measured directly, but obtaining a proper spectrum would require calculating a histogram for the


4. System Characteristics

whole series, the linewidth can be found from the properties of the normal distribution known from statistics (see [20], for example). Its density, which in this case is essentially the amplitude at a specic frequency, is
(f f0 )2 1 anormal (f ) = e 22 , 2


where is the root-mean-square (RMS) value of the distribution:



(xi )2 . n


Here xi is the ith data point, n is the number of points and the average value. This is easy to calculate and comparing equations 4.1 and 4.2 clearly shows the simple connection between Gaussian width and : wgauss 2 = 2 2 wgauss = 2 (4.4) So for a true Gaussian line, the conversions between the three dierent measures of linewidth work out to: wgauss = 0.601wF W HM = 2 (4.5) wF W HM = 1.665wgauss = 2.355 (4.6) 1 = 0.425 wF W HM = 2 wgauss (4.7) However, it should be perfectly clear that these conversions will only be a rough estimate for non-Gaussian line shapes.


Stability of the Master Laser

There are currently no measurements that give an indication of the linewidth of the master laser. It would be possible to lock the second extended cavity laser present in the experiment to the transition used by the repumper. Overlaying both beams and analyzing the beat signal with a spectrum analyzer linked to a fast photodiode would give a good indication of the linewidth. This will be done in the near future. Until then, it is safe to assume that the linewidth of the extended cavity laser is comparable to that of other, similar systems. A commercially available design is the Toptica DL100 laser, which has a short-time linewidth of 1MHz1 . Another system, which is self-built like ours, is described in [31] and achieves linewidths around 3MHz. This number is for observation with a scanning Fabry-Perot resonator of high nesse. Contributions to this linewidth are spontaneous emission ( 100kHz) as well as noise (partly shot noise) on the laser current. The feedback loop working on the grating piezo

from the datasheet available at http://www.toptica.com

4.3. Noise Introduced by the Slave Laser


will suppress most of the eects of cavity vibrations which would otherwise increase the linewidths even further. As mentioned before, one way to reach even narrower lines (down to 350kHz according to [27]) requires the driving current to have an extremely high passive stability with uctuations of not more than a few A. Since the spectroscopy setup is already in place, our feedback loop will probably be adapted to include a second branch which controls the diode current. In [26] Petelski et al. report linewidths down to 120kHz with a setup that is extremely similar to the one used in our experiment. This is on the order of the natural linewidth for the green transition line in ytterbium which is 180kHz and will be sucient if it can be transferred to the green laser system. Broadening beyond the transition linewidth will reduce the eectiveness of the green MOT, reducing the number of atoms that can be caught [32], but not preventing its operation altogether.


Noise Introduced by the Slave Laser

If temperature and current for the slave laser diode are set properly to ensure stable injection locking, frequency uctuations will be virtually non-existent compared to free-running operation. In fact, the basic theory for injected operation as outlined in section 2.4.2 requires the laser to operate at exactly the injected frequency for any steady state situation. In reality, variations in current and temperature will cause the free running frequency to shift against that of the injected light, resulting in phase uctuations of the emitted beam as shown in gure 2.26. To reach an estimate of the magnitude for this broadening a worst case scenario is presented in the following paragraphs. An injection system on the verge of instability might oscillate throughout the whole locking range, resulting in an output phase shift varying between and . In terms of signal theory this can be described as phase modulation [30]. Looking at the spectrum, this will cause sidebands at the modulation frequency, with a height that depends on the maximum phase variation. If the time scale for current and temperature variations is is wide enough, then sidebands will smear out to form a broad background which will have little eect on the actual line shape. The worst case here would be a modulation at a single frequency that is just small enough to not be resolved individually, but big enough to broaden the line perceptibly. For a single frequency modulation the phase variation can be described as (t) = sin m t , (4.8)

where m is the modulation frequency and is the so-called modulation index. For the maximum modulation described above = . The amplitude of the nth-order sideband is then given by the Bessel function Jn (), which is plotted in gure 4.2 for J0 (x), J1 (x) and J2 (x). A maximum in the height of


4. System Characteristics

the rst sideband will occur near a modulation index of = 2. This roughly corresponds to oscillations through about 90% of the locking range. For any higher modulation more power will be found in higher order sidebands, which will complicate the line shape, but have only a small additional eect on the linewidth. For this reason the further calculations will be done for = 2, even though this is technically not the worst possible case. Since the coecients found from the Bessel functions describe the electric eld amplitude, the relative intensity for the carrier and the sidebands at maximum modulation will be
2 Ic = J0 () = 0.22 2 Isb = J1 () = 0.32 .

(4.9) (4.10)

J 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 1 -0.2 -0.4 2 3 4 5 x

Fig. 4.2: Bessel functions J0 (x) (in green), J1 (x) (in red) and J2 (x) (light blue). Assuming an originally Gaussian line shape with an amplitude and width of 1 for simplicity, the sidebands will yield a maximum linewidth if they are oset at a distance of 1. This is plotted in gure 4.3. For higher osets it would be possible to observe the sidebands separately from the carrier signal, returning the eective width to its original value. For this construction the FWHM nearly doubles from 0.832 for the unmodied Gaussian line to 1.641 for the maximally broadened one. Generalizing this, injection phase noise can lead to a doubling of the eective linewidth, but only if the injected laser is just marginally stable and all the changes in free running frequency happen at a frequency corresponding close to the original linewidth. In reality, only current uctuations are likely to occur at frequencies of several hundred kHz and these can be strongly reduced by adding sucient ltering to the current supply if necessary. This would take the form of a lowpass in the DC branch and a highpass with a cuto frequency slightly below the modulation frequency in the AC branch of the bias-tee as shown in gure 4.4. All the thermal eects caused by external inuences are likely to occur on a frequency scale of up to several Hz, creating no noticeable

4.4. Performance of Modulation Electronics

y 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 -3 -2 -1 y 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 -3 -2 -1 1 2 3 x 1 2 3 x


Fig. 4.3: Top: Basic Gaussian line shape for a (Gaussian) width of 1, corresponding to a FWHM width of 0.832. Bottom: Eect of imposing sidebands on this line with an oset equal to the Gaussian width and with amplitudes for carrier (green) and rst-order sidebands (red) given by the respective Bessel functions for a modulation index of 2. oset for the sidebands. Eects of the modulation, like heating or shifts in free running frequency due to the changing current will always be periodic with the modulation frequency and therefore conincide with the sidebands created by amplitude modulation or their higher harmonics. Furthermore, the inuence can always be reduced by increasing the injection power or decreasing the diode current to extend the locking range, leading to reduced phase uctuations. Therefore it can be concluded that phase-modulation broadening in the injected laser can be neglected, at least for the sake of this evaluation.


Performance of Modulation Electronics


The linewidth of the VCO is also insignicant compared to that of the lasers used. The datasheet2 for the ZOS-1025 gives a power of -92dBc (decibel rela2

available at http://www.minicircuits.com


4. System Characteristics

Fig. 4.4: Filtering the laser diode current to reduce line broadening by injection phase shifts. tive to carrier) at an oset of 10kHz from the main frequency of oscillation. Once again assuming a Gaussian line shape, this is equivalent to a Gaussian width of 2.1kHz or a FWHM of 3.5kHz. The line is slightly broadened by the amplier used. For 12V supply voltage, the VCO provides 8dBm (6.4mW at 50 impedance) of power. The ERA-5 amplier has a gain near 20dB over the frequency range used. It can only provide 17.2dBm (about 67mW at 50) of output power, leading to strong compression eects. This is illustrated in gure 4.5, with the compression eects simplied to a hard clipping at maximum output power. The resulting FWHM is now more than doubled to 7.4kHz. This is still narrow compared to the laser linewidth and even the width of the green ytterbium transition. The compression eects can also be reduced or even eliminated by reducing the supply voltage of the VCO and thereby its output power. This has a slight cost in the power of the modulation signal, since there is no hard cuto at the specied maximum output but rather an increasing nonlinearity as the gain drops with increasing input power.
amplitude 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 -6 -4 -2 2 4 6 f

Fig. 4.5: Simplied shape of the spectrum for the modulation signal before (red) and after (green) compression eects of the amplier. Drawn for a gaussian line shape and hard cuto at maximum output power. Amplitudes relative to maximum, frequency in kHz relative to the main oscillation frequency. An eect that has a much bigger impact on the stability of the laser system

4.4. Performance of Modulation Electronics


are changes in the VCOs oscillation frequency on longer time scales. The factors driving these changes are changes in temperature as well as control and supply voltages. Minicircuits documentation gives some parameters for these variations, shown in table 4.1 parameter frequency pulling value 51kHz (ptp) meaning frequency changes induced by feedback on the output port. For feedback with a power reduction of 12dB. change of frequency with supply voltage change of frequency with tuning voltage change of frequency with temperature

frequency pushing tuning sensitivity temperature sens.

1MHz/V 30MHz/V <200kHz/K

Tab. 4.1: Important factors on frequency stability for a VCO and their typical values for the ZOS-1025. In order to keep these changes small, i.e. in the 10kHz range, the whole system will need to operate in a steady state to keep feedback constant and minimize frequency pulling. If this turns out to be problematic, some isolation between VCO and amplier will reduce feedback power. This might simply take the form of a resistive stage using up the excess power generated by the VCO to ensure that the feedback is reduced as well. Requiring 10kHz stability for each contribution means that supply voltage will need to be kept stable to 10mV, tuning voltage to 0.33mV and temperature to 0.05K. These are achievable values, provided some kind of temperature stabilization is added and the signal cables are kept short to reduce the amount of EMF noise picked up. Some measurements have been performed with the current setup which is still suering from long cables, low-pass lters only in the VCO driver box and not even passive temperature stabilization. For this a webcam was set up to watch the display of the frequency counter linked to the auxiliary output of the VCO. The pictures taken at regular intervals were then evaluated. This allowed measurement without thermal disturbance by human presence. Data for a measurement with 730 data points at intervals of 1s is shown in gure 4.6. The frequency counter has an averaging time of about 0.5s at this resolution. Excursions of more than 10kHz are rather rare, indicating a stability on this time scale that is more than sucient. The RMS value for this series was = 3.04kHz, equivalent to a full width at half maximum of 7.2kHz if the line is Gaussian (wgauss = 4.3kHz) Another series of data points has been taken at intervals of 90 seconds. This plotted in gure 4.7. While the short term stability is similar to the one found on a 1-second time scale, there are also long term drifts. These are probably temperature eects corresponding to the building cooling o over the course of the night. The measurement was started at around 9:45pm and the jump at around 8:00am was caused by opening the door to the laboratory.

548,750 548,745 548,740 548,735 548,730 548,725 548,720

4. System Characteristics

frequency [MHz]

548,715 00:00 01:00 02:00 03:00 04:00 05:00 06:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00

time [mm:ss]

Fig. 4.6: VCO oscillation frequency over time. 730 data points taken at 1s intervals. Since these drifts cover more than 100 kHz in a time of one hour even without additional disturbances by human presence, they will need to be reduced before a continuous stable operation at low linewidth is possible. If passive stabilization proves to be insucient some kind of active temperature control will be implemented. An alternative would be setting up an automated way to measure the current frequency and generate a feedback signal based on that. But for the moment, readjusting the oscillation frequency based on the display of the frequency counter will be sucient.


Tuning Range and Power

Data has also been taken on the tuning range and power output of the modulation electronics. This was measured after the amplier with a spectrum analyzer. The results are shown in gure 4.8. By varying the tuning voltage from 0V to 16V, frequencies between 544.20MHz and 1062.92MHz can be reached. This extends slightly further than the range specied in the datasheet (685MHz to 1025MHz) but at the cost of reduced output power even at maximum amplier gain. Being able to tune the frequency over almost a full octave has advantages when it comes to locking the green laser to a specic wavelength, provided the cavity has been designed to match the tuning range. If the free spectral range is equal to the minimum VCO frequency, then increasing the modulation frequency up to twice the free spectral range while keeping the laser injected will move the adjacent sideband all the way from one fringe corresponding to the injected wavelength to the next. This way the cavity can be locked to any desired length except for a small range where the locking signal generated from the sideband is obscured by the injection or by another sideband of high

4.5. Optical Spectra




frequency [MHz]





548,50 21:00 22:00 23:00 00:00 01:00 02:00 03:00 04:00 05:00 06:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00

time [hh:mm]

Fig. 4.7: VCO oscillation frequency over time. 494 data points taken at 90s intervals. intensity. Characterizing the nal parts of the system, bias-tee and laser diode, has turned out to be dicult. The main unknown factor is the noise added by frequency pulling in the VCO due to feedback caused by poor impedance matching. While the RF components are all designed to work with 50 impedance, laser diodes can have impedances as low as 2. This would lead to massive feedback, some of which might reach the VCO even through the amplier. It also decreases modulation eciency, but the observed sidebands are still high enough for the cavity lock to work.


Optical Spectra

When scanning the resonator length with the piezo it functions as a sort of optical spectrum analyzer, since for any given length certain wavelengths of light will be in resonance as described in section 2.2.2. The problem is that if the resonance condition is met for one particular frequency, then it is also met for all frequencies that dier from it by an integer multiple of the free spectral range fFSR . A similar thing happens when scanning the cavity. If a certain wavelength is resonant at a certain cavity length, then it will be resonant again when the cavity is extended so that the optical path is exactly one wavelength longer. For the confocal setup used this occurs for a change in length of /4. Since for each of the two lasers the variations in wavelength are very small compared to its absolute value, the spectrum taken when scanning the cavity over /4 will repeat itself if the scanning range is increased. The result of these two eects is that a spectrum taken in this way will contain all the spectral components present, but unless the spacing is known with an


4. System Characteristics






15 500













Fig. 4.8: Power output in dBm over oscillation frequency in MHz for the combination of VCO and amplier over the full tuning range accuracy of at least one spectral range, then it will be dicult or impossible to reconstruct the real spectrum. Increasing the scanning range will not help.
40 48.7mA



signal [mV]



9 10




5 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

piezo control voltage [V]

Fig. 4.9: Transmission spectrum for 780nm laser diode with sidebands at 543.33MHz modulation frequency. Signal averaged over ve sweeps to reduce noise. Figure 4.9 shows a set of data that was obtained in this way. It was measured with the modulation system set to a frequency of 543.33MHz and the slave laser operating at 47.8mA. Its temperature is at 16.9C (14.9k NTC resistance). The light transmitted through the cavity was measured with an unamplied photodiode. This gives a good sensitivity even for weak signals, but the response is strongly nonlinear, levelling o to a maximum output signal of around 0.6V. It also does not provide a low impedance output, increasing the noise picked up from electro-magnetic interference. But by

4.5. Optical Spectra


averaging over ve sweeps (for this and all other data taken in this way) it is possible to extract a spectrum with a tolerable signal-to-noise ratio. The plot clearly shows the main laser line (c), which will be called the carrier in the following, as well as contributions from several orders of sidebands (a, b and d, e). It also clearly repeats (1 and 2) after the control voltage has been increased by about 2.5V. The actual piezo voltage is generated from this by an amplier with a xed gain of 50 and a maximum output voltage of 500V. In order to analyze the signal in more detail, the various components have been tted with Gaussians in gure 4.10. All lines can be well tted with Gaussians of width 0.18V. Their positions are given in table 4.2.
40 35 30 48.7mA fit 2 fit 1

signal [mV]

25 20 15 10 5 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

piezo control voltage [V]

Fig. 4.10: Transmission spectrum with manual ts. The red and green parts mark dierent repetitions of the signal. line 1 2 3 4 5 position 4.50V 5.15V 5.80V 6.45V 7.10V line 6 7 8 9 10 position 7.03V 7.68V 8.41V 9.21V 9.90V

Tab. 4.2: Positions of the tted Gaussian lines in gure 4.10, given by means of the piezo control voltage. Numbering is from the left to the right as plotted in the diagram. Although neighboring lines should be spaced at constant distances, they appear closer together for high control voltages. This can be easily explained since the length change of the piezo is reduced at high voltages. Calculating the free spectral range from equation 2.25 gives a value of 749MHz for a 100mm confocal cavity. Therefore a modulation frequency of 543MHz will place the sidebands closer to the next echo of the carrier than to the carrier itself.


4. System Characteristics

Without this folding of the spectrum into the free spectral range of the resonator, the signal would look more like indicated in gure 4.11. But at least for higher order sidebands it is still dicult to tell if any particular sideband belongs to the high or low frequency side of the spectrum while they are all intermixed. For this reason a more detailed analysis of the signal will be done at a dierent modulation frequency. Figure 4.12 shows the spectrum measured for a modulation frequency of 829.54MHz. The slave laser is operating at a current of 48.0mA and with the temperature still at 16.2C. Since the frequency oset of the sidebands is just slightly greater than the frequency dierence to the next repetition of the carrier, the various lines combine into a single shape. This reveals two additional lines between the groups centered around the repetitions of the carrier. Since these also shift when the injected frequency is varied, they must be products of the modulated diode and should therefore also be located at integer multiples of the modulation frequency from the carrier. To conrm this, Gaussian lines have been tted to the spectrum in gure 4.13. A Gaussian width of 0.16V for each of the lines seems to give the best t. Looking at the distances between adjacent lines shows that they are very evenly spaced. Distances vary between 0.25V and 0.29V piezo control voltage for voltages of 4V to 9V. In the range between 9V and 10V the spectrum appears stretched out again. But there is an irregularity at the position marked with red vertical lines in the diagram. The line spacing here is approximately 0.36V, too far away from either the normal value or a multiple of it to be likely to be a random uctuation. Since it appears at a control voltage near 7V, nonlinear eects in the piezo are also unlikely to be the cause. A break like that is expected to appear between repetitions of the signal unless the ratio of modulation frequency to free spectral range happens to be a simple fraction. Now the repetitions of the signal can be isolated and the actual spectrum can be reconstructed from the folded data. This is plotted in gure 4.14. The plot shows this to be highly asymmetric. The amplitude of the sidebands drops close to zero for the third order sidebands. The right side, however, shows strong forth and fth order lines as well. It is quite likely that freqeuncy of the master laser coincides with one of these, possibly the fth order sideband. The observed increased intensity can then be explained as direct amplication of the injected light. Unfortunately our setup does not currently allow sending the injection beam into the cavity in a way that would make it possible to compare its wavelength to those of the various sidebands, so this cannot be shown conclusively. The reason for the asymmetry of the spectrum with regard to the injected frequency might be suppression of one the sidebands by the mechanisms described in the chapter on vestigial sideband operation (section or simply by lack of gain for its frequency. In the latter model, which is an alternative to the one oered before, the modulation eects do not directly create the observed spectrum but instead transfer intensity from one sideband

4.5. Optical Spectra


40 35 30

48.7mA fit 1

signal [mV]

25 20 15 10 5 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

piezo control voltage [V]

Fig. 4.11: Transmission spectrum for modulation at 543MHz again, with t corresponding to the spectrum without folding caused by the limited free spectral range.




signal [mV]




5 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

piezo control voltage [V]

Fig. 4.12: Transmission spectrum for modulation at 829.54MHz. Slave laser operating at 48.0mA and 16.2C (14.9k). Spectrum averaged over ve sweeps of the cavity.


4. System Characteristics


30 25

signal [mV]




5 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

piezo control voltage [V]

Fig. 4.13: Spectrum for modulation at 829.54MHz, with tted Gaussian lines. Green vertical lines mark the regular spacing of adjacent lines, while the red ones mark the dierent spacing between repetitions of the spectrum. The transmission lines highlighted in red show the spacing as it would appear without folding into the cavitys free spectral range.



frequency of injected light

amplitude [mV]


0 -10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1

frequency / fmod

Fig. 4.14: Reconstructed spectrum for modulation at 829.54MHz. Frequency is given in units of the modulation frequency relative to the likely frequency of the injected light (marked in red).

4.5. Optical Spectra


to the neighboring ones. Each of the laser oscillations started in this way will have its own gain or loss, depending on the gain in the laser medium and the properties of the laser resonator at this frequency. This is illustrated in gure 4.14: The heights of the various sidebands measured t a ctitious gain envelope (plotted in gray) centered at an oset of approximately 4.2GHz from the injection frequency. This is in agreement with observations on the behavior of the spectrum when the diode current is changed: For low diode currents and a well adjusted injection setup, the individual lines do not change their positions on the oscilloscope, but their amplitudes change as the envelope is gradually shifted. It is important to note here that this envelope does not correspond to the gain of the active medium in the diode, as this would result in a much wider shape. Instead it is given by the shape of the resonance line of the diodes resonator. A good way to gain more insight into what happens inside the modulated slave diode might therefore be to change the diodes resonator, either by adding an external mirror or adding a coating. This should have a strong eect if the gain-per-sideband model is correct but should change little if the modulation creates the whole spectrum directly. For now we will assume that the injection in this example was not into the carrier, but in fact into a fth order sideband. The main laser emission then occurs at a frequency more than 4GHz oset from that of the master laser. It also shows several sidebands at amplitudes given by an approximately Gaussian envelope (indicated in grey in gure 4.14) created by the interaction of the laser diodes gain prole and the intensity redistribution caused by the modulation. In order to optimize the systems stability, the laser should be injected into a rst order sideband so the cavity can be locked to the line with the highest amplitude. Locking the cavity to a sideband that is not adjacent to the one used for the injection will multiply the eect of frequency uctuations in the modulation system. Finally, the data taken in these measurements can be used to characterize the cavity. The spectrum for 829.54MHz modulation frequency will be used for this, with the data beyond 9.5V control voltage excluded due to the increased piezo non-linearities. The average spacing between adjacent lines (ignoring the irregular gap) is 0.269V (0.02V) and the average spacing between repetitions of the same line is 2.519V (0.28V). In a confocal cavity this corresponds to a change in length of one quarter wavelength. This allows the contraction coecient of the resonator to be calculated as /4 780.233nm laxial = = = 72.27nm/V (8.61nm/V ) ccontr Uctrl Urep 4 2.519V (4.11) Since the actual voltage at the piezo is 50 times higher than the control voltage, the contraction coecient for the piezo tube is cctrl cpiezo = = 1.45nm/V , (4.12) 50


4. System Characteristics

which comes close to the values of 16m contraction for a 36mm tube at 1000V given in the datasheet3 . This would mean an average contraction coecient of -1.33nm/V for the 3mm slice used. This was to be expected, since the contraction decreases as the voltage approaches its allowed maximum. The change in resonant wavelength relates to the change in cavity length as res l = . 0 l0 (4.13)

Since all changes are small compared to the initial values, 0 and l0 can be treated as constants. Linearizing the relation that way and plugging in the contraction coecient found above yields res = and therefore 0 cctrl l0 Uctrl (4.14)

res = 0.564pm/V (0.007pm/V ) . Uctrl


This will later be used in the analysis of the error signals of the cavity feedback loop. Based on its design, the cavity has a free spectral range of 749.5MHz. The FSR can also be found from these measurements by comparing the distance between adjacent sidebands to the distance between repetitions of the same line: 2.519V fFSR = fmod = 749.5MHz (4.16) 2.519V + 0.269V This exact match is quite surprising considering the non-linearities and large error margins, but it shows that the calculations are generally correct. The nesse of the resonator is another value that is conveniently found this way. It is given by F= fFSR fFWHM 2.519V = 9.5 , 1.665 0.16V (4.17)

where the width of the transmission line has been converted from its Gaussian value to FWHM. This low value is surprising since the theory predicts a nesse of around F = 50 for the mirror reectivities used. An explanation might be deviations from the confocal setup of the cavity. The resonant frequencies for higher transverse modes in a resonator with spherical mirrors are oset from the lowest order resonance by arccos g1 g2 c , (4.18) fnm = (n + m) 2L
phase shift factor

available at http://www.piezomechanik.de, the dimensions of the piezo tube before cutting were 1mm10mm36mm.

4.5. Optical Spectra


where n and m are the parameters describing a Gaussian-Hermite transversal l mode and g1 = g2 = 1 R are the g-factors describing the relation of radius of curvature (R) and spacing (l) for the mirrors (see [24]). For a perfectly confocal resonator g1/2 = 0, and the phase shift factor will be exactly 0.5, leading to the pattern of degenerate lines at half the original spacing as described in section 2.2.2. But if the radius of curvature is just one millimeter greater than the resonator length, the factor will drop to approximately 0.497. Such a dierence is well possible since the radius of the mirrors is not specied to much better than 1%. This will lift the degeneracy and the transversal modes with (m + n = 2) will be oset from the next longitudinal mode, which it would normally be degenerate with, by 0.64% of the free spectral range. Transversal modes with (m + n 15) would be shifted by 10%. Creating a broadened line shape that accounts for the low cavity nesse of 9.5 would require transversal modes of decreasing amplitudes up to around (m + n = 30). These are likely to be excited in our case since the o-axis operation of the resonator is based on exciting a mixture of transversal modes. The lowest order mode, after being spread out some more by the eect of the plano-concave substrate of the cavity mirror, has an angle of divergence of slightly below 0.2(mode-matching calculations done according to [24]). For higher transverse modes, the mode width will approximately scale as wn n w0 (4.19)

The laser beams enter the cavity at angles near 2. To construct a beam like that from the resonator modes will require contributions from modes with n 100. Inversely, these modes will be excited by the incident beam, making broadening by an imperfect cavity length more than likely. In order to reduce this eect the cavity length needs to be carefully matched to the mirror radius of curvature. This requires adding a way to adjust the length of the assembled cavity. The most important values found in this section have been summarized in table 4.3. property length free spectral range nesse contraction for control voltage change in resonant wavelength change in resonant frequency contraction for piezo voltage symbol l0 fFSR F ccontr value 100 mm 749.5 MHz 9.5 -72.27 nm/V -0.564 pm/V 297.5 MHz/V -1.45 nm/V error 0.2 mm 1.5 MHz 0.6 8.61 nm/V 0.007 pm/V 3.3 MHz/V 0.17 nm/V


fres Ucontrol res Ucontrol

Tab. 4.3: Summary of cavity properties for the 780.233nm laser


4. System Characteristics
green lock signal 1,0 0,5 0,0 -0,5 cavity length offset 1,0 -200 0,5 0,0 -0,5 -1,0 red lock signal -1,0 -150 -100 -50 0 50 100 150 200 -1,5 -2,0 -2,5 -3,0

3,0 2,5 2,0 1,5

Fig. 4.15: Dispersion shaped locking signals for the red and green laser systems. Centered and normalized, with cavity length reconstructed from green signal, relative to the position of it center resonance line.


Lock Signals - Cavity

Stabilizing the lasers is the heart of the whole system. With both lasers operating, the optical setup was adjusted to maximize the locking signals and minimize the inuences they have on each other. Then, the lasers were adjusted to ensure stable injected operation of the red system and single mode operation of the green dye laser. Subsequently the output of the dierence ampliers with lters turned o was recorded with a digital oscilloscope as the cavity was scanned over several free spectral ranges. The resulting data is shown in gure 4.15. The amplitudes have been normalized and the change in cavity length has been reconstructed from the distances between peaks in the green signal. The original peak-to-peak amplitudes were 2.08V for the red and 5.64V for the green signal. Since the distance between repetitions of the signal can safely be assumed to correspond to the free spectral range of 749.5MHz for the respective wavelength, it is easy to nd the width of the slopes. This is around 52MHz for the red and 48MHz for the green signal, probably due to dierent modematching for the beams. Expressing this in terms of changes in resonator length yields 13.5nm for red and 8.9nm for green. The red dispersion-shaped signal is used to lock the cavity to the laser. To adjust the locking system and select the desired lock point, the cavity is scanned by adding a triangle wave to the output of the loop amplier. Then the input oset is adjusted to center the signal so that the lock will operate at the zero-crossing to minimize the eect of intensity uctuations. The desired resonance is selected with the output oset. Now the scan is turned o and

4.7. Lock Signals - Dye Laser


the loop is activated. Finally the low-pass lter in the dierence amplier is turned on to reduce the eects of line noise and background light. It is possible to get an indication for the quality of the lock by looking at the error signal while the lock is operating. For the red lock this was done using the signal shown above, with an amplitude of 4V peak-to-peak at the dierence amplier. After activating the feedback loop the uctuations of the error signal are almost completely conned to the range of 6mV. Using the width of the slope found above and assuming it to be approximately linear, this corresponds to laser frequency noise of 78kHz or uncompensated cavity length uctuations of 0.020nm. These numbers describe how well the cavity length is adjusted to keep the red beam in resonance. They are partly caused by disturbances that happen too quickly to be compensated for, but also partly by electronic or optical noise picked up by the system. For the low remaining uctuations observed here, the latter are probably even the dominating factor. When measured at the monitor output of the feedback loop, the observed noise was around 50mV independent of whether the lock was operating or not. The low pass lter has been included based on the assumption that in the absence of vibration any errors in cavity length will be thermally induced drifts on a time scale of several seconds. In this case the lter will reduce high-frequency noise caused by instabilities of the master-slave system or electromagnetice interference while letting the biggest part of the actual (lowfrequency) error signal through.


Lock Signals - Dye Laser

After the cavity has been locked to the red laser, the dye laser is in turn locked to the cavity. The residual unltered noise found here is 30mV for a 4.4V peak-to-peak signal with the 1kHz low-pass lter active to keep the piezo actuator in the dye laser below resonance. This is equivalent to a change in resonator length of 0.061nm or in laser frequency of 330kHz at frequencies below the bandwidth limit imposed by the photodiode ampliers, which should operate well at up to 50-100kHz. Since these numbers are considerably higher than those for the cavity lock, they represent the laser linewidth. Although no digital data has currently been taken, assuming a Gaussian width of 330kHz (*FIXME: this was 660kHZ before, consequences on nal linewidth?) will be a conservative estimate. While this is too wide to observe the linewidth of the 555.8nm line in ytterbium, it will be sucient for the operation of a MOT if the detuning is increased slightly. While some ne-tuning is still possible, a dramatic reduction in linewidth will require a change in the setup used. This might take the form of putting an acousto-optical modulator into the optical path between laser and cavity/experiment to be able to increase the bandwidth of the lock beyond the


4. System Characteristics

limit of 2.5kHZ imposed by the dye laser (see section 3.5). The new bandwidth limit for the feedback loop is then given by the time it takes for the AOM to translate a dierent driving frequency into a dierent optical output frequency. This has an unavoidable delay on the order of 1s caused by the travel time of the sound waves in the crystal medium. If an even higher bandwidth is required, a setup as described in [33], consisting of a combination of electro-optic and acousto-optical modulators, can be used. This achieves linewidths of around 20kHz or with considerably higher eort even in the sub-kHz range [34]. The dye laser also contains a second piezo actuator with a light-weight mirror. Operating this at a frequency above 2.5kHz to avoid disturbing the internal locking system might make it possible to increase the bandwidth of the feedback loop without external components. To obtain an estimate for the required bandwidth, the error signal of an early version of the locking system was recorded on various timescales up to the maximum bandwidth (45MHz) of the oscilloscope used. This data was then Fourier-transformed to obtain a spectrum for the uctuations. The results after averaging the spectral data over 25 series, compensating for aliasing eects and merging the partial data from dierent frequency ranges are shown in gures 4.16 to 4.19. Even with the lock operating, 35% of the
20000 5ms 50ms

15000 noise power



0 0 250 500 750 1000 1250 1500 1750 2000 2250 2500 frequency [Hz]

Fig. 4.16: Noise power spectrum for the error signal of the dye laser locked to the cavity. Plot shows data from measurements at 5ms and 50ms sampling rate with power given in arbitrary units. Low frequency range shown. total noise power is located in the low frequency band up to 1kHz. So there is considerable room for improvement simply by tuning the loop behavior. Increasing the bandwidth to 10kHz will only cause a marginal decrease in linewidth, as the 1kHz to 10kHz band only contains 14% of the noise power, with 1.5% present in the inaccessible range around the internal modulation frequency of 2.5kHz.

4.7. Lock Signals - Dye Laser

1527 5ms 500us


150 125 100 75 50 25 0

noise power







frequency [kHz]

Fig. 4.17: Noise power in arbitrary units over frequency. Intermediate frequency range shown. Data taken with sampling rates of 5ms and 0.5ms. For a signicant reduction the maximum operating frequency of the lock needs to be pushed up to include a bump that appears in the spectrum centered around 30kHz. The band from 10kHz to 60kHz contains 48% of the total noise power. Higher frequencies account for the remaining 3%.


4. System Characteristics



1000 noise power



0,1 0 10 20 30 40 frequency [kHz] 50 60 70 80

Fig. 4.18: Noise power in arbitrary units over frequency. Logarithmic scaling used for clarity, high frequency range shown.


500us 50us

10 noise power



0,001 0 0,25 0,5 0,75 1 1,25 1,5 1,75 2 frequency [MHz]

Fig. 4.19: Noise power in arbitrary units over frequency up to the highest measured frequencies. Logarithmic scaling for clarity, full measured spectrum plotted.

4.8. The System as a Whole



The System as a Whole

Now that estimates for the various subsystems have been found, their eect on the nal stability and linewidth of the full system can be discussed. The convolution of one Gaussian line with a second one will always result in another Gaussian line [29]: e( wa ) e
x 2

x wb

e( wa ) e

xy wb

dy = A e

x2 wa2 +wb2


where A is an amplitude factor that has no eect on the line shape. If the initial distribution were normalized to have an area of 1, the nal Gaussian would be as well. This property is used in statistics, but shall not concern us here. The important result is that when a Gaussian line of width wa undergoes broadening of width wb , the resulting line will have a Gaussian width of wa2 + wb2 . This is assuming that the broadening mechanisms are completely independent of each other. For nding the linewidth of the system in its current state, the widths from the previous chapters have been gathered in table 4.4. Of course these do not component locked master laser injection phase noise modulation system cavity lock dye laser lock width 1MHz (small) 4.3kHz 156kHz 330kHz

Tab. 4.4: Summary of Gaussian linewidths for the individual components. quite fulll the requirement of independent subsystems. Especially the noise on the cavity simply echoes part of the noise on the red laser system. But as long as this does not force the system into oscillation, it will actually cause the resonator to lter out some of the laser noise as it will not follow all of its uctuations. Additionally, the 1Hz-lowpass used in the cavity feedback loop will also serve to decouple the cavity length from high-frequency noise in the red laser system. So the linewidth found here will be an upper limit. There is also an eect caused by the dierent wavelengths in the resonator. The total system linewidth up to the contribution from the cavity lock is 1208kHz. By comparing this to the free spectral range, this can be translated into a Gaussian width for the resonator length uctuations: wlen = wf req red = 0.31nm fFSR 4 (4.21)

Translating this back into a frequency for the green laser yields wgreen = red 4wlen fFSR = wf req = 1696kHz green green (4.22)


4. System Characteristics

The last factor will be the lock of the dye laser. This broadens the line to a Gaussian width of 1728kHz. The main contribution is still from the master laser. If all other numbers are correct, then a reduction of its linewidth to 120kHz will cause the linewidth after the total system linewidth to fall to 431kHz, so this will be one option to consider. Another option is to optimize the compromise between locking bandwidth and noise reduction provided by the low-pass lter in the cavity lock. If the linewidth of the system can be measured directly, for example by Doppler-free spectroscopy on the ytterbium line, then adjusting the cuto frequency might prove a valid alternative to modifying the master laser.

5. Operation
The rst complete version of the system is operational. Both feedback loops work well and stay in lock without strong external disturbances. There is some cross-talk between the red and the green systems, causing an oset of the locking signals depending on the intensity of the other laser. It is most likely caused by stray light in the resonator as there is no notable change when the laser crosses a resonance. So far only basic tests have been run with the system, the results of which are presented in this chapter.


Ytterbium Spectroscopy

Locking the dye laser to the resonator and controlling the length of that with the output oset of the feedback loop, the ytterbium spectroscopy cell shows uorescence at dierent wavelengths for seven dierent transition lines, corresponding to isotope shifts and hyperne structure eects for six of the seven stable isotopes. The only isotope that does not show an eect in our measurement is 168 Y b with a natural abundance of only 0.13%. A spectrum for the dierent transition frequencies is shown in gure 5.1. The wavelengths for which uorescence was observed in our spectroscopy setup are correlated with the data from that spectrum in table 5.1. wavelength 555.7990 nm 555.8000 nm 555.8015 nm 555.8030 nm 555.8045 nm 555.8060 nm 555.8065 nm strength medium medium medium strong medium weak medium isotope 171 (F=3/2) / 173 (F=3/2) 170 / 173 (F=5/2) 172 174 176 171 (F=1/2) 173 (F=7/2) abundances 14.28% / 16.13% 3.04% / 16.13% 21.83% 31.83% 12.76% 14.28% 16.13%

Tab. 5.1: Observed wavelengths for the 555.8nm line in dierent species of ytterbium atoms. Wavelength error is 0.001nm. Isotopes and spin states are also given for each line. Abundances are for the whole isotope, not the particular spin state. Due to the eyes high sensitivity for the green range of the spectrum, the uorescence is easy to see but dicult to pick up with regular photodiodes.


5. Operation

Fig. 5.1: Spectrum for the 1 S0 3 P1 transition of ytterbium, showing shifts based on isotope and nuclear spin. Measured by R. Maruyama at the University of Washington, available at http://www.phys.washington.edu/ reinam/ Converting the experiment to use photomultipliers to detect the green light is planned, but has yet to be implemented. After locating the interesting wavelengths, the green laser beam was fed into the main chamber and aimed at the MOT operating on the blue transition. For the strongest line at 555.803nm there was a clear eect even at a low power of 260W . This took the form of a small green spot in the center of the blue light emitted by the MOT itself. Measuring the intensity of the green uorescence was possible by ltering out part of the blue light with a simple yellow lter foil. Keeping the dye laser locked to the cavity and scanning the piezo voltage, spectra for the strongest line at 555.803nm were taken. One set of raw data is plotted in gure 5.2. Evaluating the data shows a linewidth of wgauss = 45MHz. In order to get some data on the dominating broadening mechanisms, both the intensity of the green light and the current in the MOT coils were varied. Lowering the intensity reduces saturation eects which lead to socalled power broadening. Reducing the MOT current will lower the potential gradients in the trap, aecting the equivalent of the spring constant. This can reduce the kinetic energy of the trapped atoms, leading to reduced Doppler broadening. Both parameters have an inuence on the observed linewidth, as shown in gures 5.3 to 5.6. In addition, there will also be Zeeman-broadening caused by the shift of the ground state of the transition in the inhomogenous magnetic eld of the trap. Also, the absorption-emission cycle driven by the blue laser

5.2. Double-Locked Operation

0,055 0,050 0,045 signal [V] 0,040 0,035 0,030 0,025 0,00 signal piezo control 7,6 7,4 7,2 7,0 6,8 6,6 6,4 0,02 0,04 0,06 0,08 0,10 0,12 0,14 0,16 0,18 0,20 time [s] piezo control [V]


Fig. 5.2: Raw data taken for the spectrum of the 1 S0 3 P1 transition in the most common ytterbium isotope 174 Y b. 1400W green light, MOT current 250A, averaged over 8 sweeps. will eectively limit the lifetime of the ground state, resulting in additional broadening. In the current state of development 30MHz is the lowest achievable linewidth. Any further reduction in intensity causes the signal to be swamped out by the intensity uctuations of the blue laser system. Lowering the current in the coils will cause the trap to become unstable.


Double-Locked Operation

Operation with both locks turned on has also been demonstrated. In order to set the green laser to a specic frequency the following procedure has been the most successful so far: With both locks and lters turned o, the resonator length is scanned while watching the locking signals using the input monitor connections of the loops. The wavelength of the dye laser is adjusted to the appropriate range according to the wavemeter using the Lyot-lter and selector etalon in the laser. Care needs to be taken to ensure that the resonator controls allow for a wide tuning range without mode jumps or the onset of multi-mode operation. Input gain on the loops is adjusted to bring the amplitudes of the locking signals to standard values (currently 10V peak-to-peak are used) to allow for reproducible lock operation.


5. Operation

0,055 0,050 0,045 signal [V] 0,040 0,035 250A, 1.40mW 0,030 width=45MHz 0,025 -150 -100 -50 0 frequency [MHz] 50 100

fit data


Fig. 5.3: Photodiode signal corresponding to intensity of the uorescence caused by the green beam in the ytterbium MOT, plotted over frequency relative to the line center. Linewidth of the manual t is 45MHz. Spectrum taken at 250A MOT current and 1400W green light, averaged over 8 sweeps.

0,038 0,036 0,034 signal [V] 0,032 0,030 250A, 0.22mW 0,028 width=35MHz 0,026 -150 -100 -50 0 frequency [MHz] 50 100

fit signal


Fig. 5.4: Photodiode signal corresponding to intensity of the uorescence caused by the green beam in the ytterbium MOT, plotted over frequency relative to the line center. Linewidth of the manual t is 35MHz. Spectrum taken at 250A MOT current and 220W green light, averaged over 8 sweeps.

5.2. Double-Locked Operation



fit signal


signal [V]


0,040 143A, 1.45mW 0,035 width=40MHz 0,030 -100


50 frequency [MHz]




Fig. 5.5: Photodiode signal corresponding to intensity of the uorescence caused by the green beam in the ytterbium MOT, plotted over frequency relative to the line center. Linewidth of the manual t is 40MHz. Spectrum taken at 143A MOT current and 1450W green light, averaged over 40 sweeps.


fit signal

0,040 signal [V]



143A, 0.19mW width=30MHz

0,025 -150



0 frequency [MHz]




Fig. 5.6: Photodiode signal corresponding to intensity of the uorescence caused by the green beam in the ytterbium MOT, plotted over frequency relative to the line center. Linewidth of the manual t is 30MHz. Spectrum taken at 143A MOT current and 190W green light, averaged over 8 sweeps.


5. Operation

The output oset for the green lock is adjusted manually until the desired frequency is reached, for example until green uorescence appears. This frequency needs to be held manually in the following. Now the modulation system is adjusted, until one of the green cavity resonances coincides with one of the red ones. This will require adapting the slave laser current to keep the injection stable. Scanning the cavity over several free spectral ranges is required here, because when looking at a single one, bringing one of the sidebands into coincidence with the green resonance might place it to close to one of the repetitions of the carrier for the lock to work properly. By lowering the amplitude of the scan and adjusting the output oset of the cavity-locking loop, the cavity length is brought close to the point of coincidence between red and green resonance. Finally the lters are activated and the locks turned on. This way it was possible to keep the dye laser at the frequency of the green ytterbium line for a time of several minutes. After that the uorescence slowly disappeared, indicating that the reason was a slow drift rather than the system becoming unlocked or jumping to the next resonance. In addition to this very strong drift, the feedback loops were also showing much stronger noise than in previous tests. This was probably caused by operating the blue MOT, and its trapping coils in particular. Especially the sensitive photodiode ampliers will pick up any eld uctuations as noise. By providing better shielding and higher signal levels this eect will need to be corrected before stable operation can be achieved.

6. Conclusion
6.1 Summary

It has been shown that the combination of a modulated slave laser and a resonator described here can be used to transfer the stability of an existing laser system to another that operates at a dierent frequency. While long-term stability and linewidth still need to be optimized before the system can fulll its intended function, the idea appears to be valid. Under normal circumstances stable locked operation is possible with a linewidth likely to be below 2MHz and drifts of less than 1.5MHz over several hours1 . All of this uses very few complicated electronic components and currently no optical element that is more complicated than a polarizing beam splitter cube. Specically, no expensive optical insulators or AOMs with a wide tuneable range are required while still providing access to essentially any desired frequency the dye laser system can generate.


Things to do

While basic operation has already been achieved for the complete system, there are still some missing parts and obvious improvements. To use the system in actual experiments, some form of computer control will need to be implemented. This will most likely consist of the AOM already shown in gure 3.5 for fast switching in combination with a mechanical shutter to ensure complete blocking of the beam. The long term stability of the VCO can very likely be increased by keeping it at constant temperature. As a rst step some kind of passive insulation will be added to reduce the eect of drafts. Adding an external modier input to the control box would be advantageous for ne-tuning as well as for taking spectra. In addition to this a procedure to ensure injection into a low order sideband is required to avoid multiplication of the errors introduced by the modulation system.

For VCO frequency drifts of 250kHz multiplied by injection into a fth sideband as found in the measurements


6. Conclusion

A metal casing will be constructed to enclose cavity and analyzers. This would greatly reduce the room light picked up by the sensors, decrease the eects of temperature uctuations on the resonator length and oer a degree of shielding against external electromagnetic elds. Since one limiting factor for the achievable linewidth is the master laser, this will need some work to improve the performance of the lock. A rst step would be to include direct current modulation to increase the bandwidth of the feedback loop. Alternatively the cuto frequency of the low-pass lter in the cavity lock can be adjusted to lter out as much of the fast uctuations as possible. For all measures intended to reduce the linewidth, a way to measure the current width will be required. This will either be implemented in the form of a traditional doppler-free spectroscopy setup or by doing a simple form of absorption/uorescence spectroscopy on the slow and focused atom beam after the Zeeman slower as used in [8] The next version of the cavity will be tted with mirrors with a thinner silver coating, giving vastly better transmission at the cost of a minor reduction in reectivity. To improve the slope of the lock signals at resonance and therefore reduce the inuence of noise on the lock, the resonator nesse will be increased by making its base length adjustable. More improvement is possible here by using a longer resonator to reduce the free spectral range and thereby the linewidth for constant nesse. A second eect of a longer resonator with a free spectral range close to 500MHz would be better matching of the frequency range that can be covered by the modulation system and the range of sideband positions that are not blocked by repetitions of the carrier line.

Appendix A

Since many of the electronic circuits used are self-designed, the following chapter will provide schematics for the most important ones.


Radio-frequency Amplier

Fig. A.1: Schematic of the circuit based on the Minicircuits Era-5 RF amplier.


Appendix A. Schematics


VCO Driver

Fig. A.2: Schematic of the driver box for the VCO. Provides both power and a thermally stable control voltage.



Dierence Amplier

Fig. A.3: Schematic for the dierence ampliers used in the circular polarization analyzers.

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