The goal of this work was to develop a new class of portable optical frequency references based on sub-Doppler spectroscopy inside gas-filled, hollow-core photonic bandgap (PBG) optical fiber. The change in line width with core size, and narrower transitions inside a new “kagome” structured optical fiber, were demonstrated. A simplified and more compact method for observing saturated absorption spectroscopy in half-sealed photonic bandgap fibers, called the “reflected pump technique,” was realized. Two systems, each consisting of a narrow-line fiber laser locked to the P(13) transition in acetylene, were constructed. By comparing those two systems, it was possible to obtain stability data on the fiber-filled references.

A mode-locked Cr:forsterite laser was developed and stabilized to a GPS-disciplined Rb clock with which to characterize the gas-filled, hollow-fiber optical frequency references. It was found that these lasers offer noisier “f0” beats than Ti:sapphire lasers, but a method was found to dramatically reduce the f0 beat width. A study was initiated into the source of the noise and the exact explanation for the narrowing. In the meantime, absolute frequency measurements of the fiber laser locked to the hollow fiber references are in progress.

A generally useful technique was developed for splicing the photonic bandgap fibers to solid-core fibers using an arc fusion splicer, which makes PBG fibers easier to use in the laboratory. Toward making a completely sealed photonic bandgap fiber cell, PBG was spliced to solid-core fibers inside a vacuum system using a CO2 laser. Efforts to reproduce this in an acetylene vapor proved unsuccessful, most likely due to the thermal properties of acetylene.

This work was done by Kristan L. Corwin of Kansas State University for the Air Force Research Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at under the Photonics category. AFRL-0132

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Novel Wavelength Standards in the Near Infrared

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This article first appeared in the April, 2010 issue of Defense Tech Briefs Magazine.

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