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Monolithic optical frequency comb generators

English title Monolithic optical frequency comb generators
Applicant Kippenberg Tobias Jan
Number 128709
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Laboratoire de photonique et mesures quantiques EPFL - STI - IEL - LPQM2
Institution of higher education EPF Lausanne - EPFL
Main discipline Other disciplines of Physics
Start/End 01.11.2010 - 31.10.2011
Approved amount 165'000.00
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Keywords (3)

Optical Frequency Comb; Microresonator; Four-Wave Mixing

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Context:Precise measurement and control of optical frequencies plays an important role in modern science as well as everyday life. Optical frequency combs are revolutionary tools that allow determining optical frequencies with unprecedented accuracy. For their discovery its inventors Hänsch and Hall were awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in physics. By providing accurate and absolute frequency markers, optical frequency combs are advancing spectroscopy and metrology applications ranging from broad band gas sensing, Fourier transform spectroscopy to astrophysical spectrometer calibration. Over the past decade frequency combs have been generated relying on mode-locked lasers. An entirely novel class of frequency comb generators based on non-linear optical processes in microresonators have been demonstrated by the PI and his research group in 2007. Besides their compactness the distinct properties of microresonator based frequency combs, namely their high repetition rates, are advantageous for many applications, thereby complementing conventional techniques for comb generation.Goal:So far stabilized microresonator based combs have been demonstrated only in the in the near-infrared wavelengths region. New wavelengths ranges, namely the adjacent visible and mid-infrared region, are so far unexplored despite their essential importance for e.g. molecular spectroscopy. Further developing and transferring the microresonator frequency comb technology to the visible and mid-infrared regimes is at the core of the research program described here.Significance:Frequency measurement and spectroscopy application in both the visible and mid-infrared region could immensely profit from the availability of microresonator frequency combs. A particularly fascinating application of visible combs with high repetition rate is the calibration of astrophysical spectrometers for the search of Earth-like exo-planets. Combs in the mid-infrared range, which is known as the molecular fingerprinting region and difficult to access by conventional technology, are of particular interest for molecular sensing and detection. The compactness and intrinsic simplicity of microresonator combs also renders them suitable for space application where size and robustness matters.­
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

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Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
161573 Photonic Damascene Fabrication Process for High Q integrated SiN Photonic Circuits 01.04.2016 precoR
150740 Mid Infrared spectral analysis instrumentation 01.12.2013 R'EQUIP
146823 Microresonators based Frequency combs in the visible and infrared 01.04.2013 Project funding
130047 Microresonators based Frequency combs in the visible and infrared 01.06.2010 Project funding


The development of optical frequency combs1-3 has lead over the past decades to major ad-vancements in the ability to measure optical frequency with unprecedented accuracy4. Optical frequency combs are the essential clockworks for optical atomic clocks5 which have enabled to surpass the Cs primary standard. Moreover, optical frequency combs have lead to advances in broadband molecular spectroscopy6,7, laser spectroscopy and have been a pivotal tool for the generation of attosecond laser pulses. Moreover, frequency combs have recently been demon-strated to provide superior calibration to astrophysical spectrometers used in the search for extra-solar planets. Indeed, optical frequency combs have become valuable tools in many stu-dies, but are at present still only used in comparatively few laboratories (mostly metrological institutes or institutes such as JILA at NIST or the MPQ within the Max Planck Society). This proposal seeks to establish a laboratory at EPFL which has fiber based optical frequency comb and the concomitant frequency metrology expertise. With a commercial optical frequency comb (which is sold by the market leader, Menlo Systems GmbH, a spin-off from the frequency comb research of T.W. Hänsch) the PI will not only be able to engage in metrology studies and re-search that makes use of an optical frequency comb, but importantly continue research pre-viously carried out with the infrastructure at the former host institution, the Max Planck Insti-tute of Quantum Optics. Among the studies that will be enabled by this tool is the development of an entirely new frequency comb generator based on optical microresoantors8,9. A novel ap-proach was developed in the lab of the PI, demonstrating a comb generator based entirely on nonlinear frequency conversion in ultra-high-Q optical micro-resonators. This approach offers significant reduction in size, power consumption, foot-print and moreover enables to operate at previously unattainable repetition rate in the range beyond 10 GHz8. A remaining challenge is however to achieve an octave spanning frequency comb3 on a chip, which would allow phase stabilization of the spectrum using the well established techniques such as the f-2f interfero-meter2,3,10. These studies will be carried out in the future laboratory of the applicant at the EPFL, but can only be carried out provided the necessary scientific infrastructure is present. At the MPQ the latter was provided by a central optical frequency comb that was transferred into the PIs laboratory via optical fiber. This infrastructure is not present at EPFL and requested as part of this proposal. The applicant is a PATT at EPFL who has obtained his PhD at Caltech and lead an Independent Junior Research Group at the MPI of Quantum Optics for 3 ½ years. The applicant has made recognized contributions in this time to the field of cavity optomechanics and optical frequency metrology, of which the latter is the core of the present proposal and for which he has received the degree of “Habilitation” at the LMU Munich. The present request centers around major re-search instrumentation required to attain the optical frequency comb capability of his former host institution, the MPI of Quantum Optics in Germany.1.Ye, J. & Cundiff, S. T. Femtosecond Optical Frequency Comb: Principle, Operation and Applications (Springer, 2005).2.Udem, T., Holzwarth, R. & Hansch, T. W. Optical frequency metrology. Nature 416, 233-237 (2002).3.Diddams, S. A. et al. Direct link between microwave and optical frequencies with a 300 THz femtosecond laser comb. Physical Review Letters 84, 5102-5105 (2000).4.Udem, T., Reichert, J., Holzwarth, R. & Hansch, T. W. Accurate measurement of large optical frequency differences with a mode-locked laser. Optics Letters 24, 881-883 (1999).5.Diddams, S. A. et al. An optical clock based on a single trapped Hg-199(+) ion. Science 293, 825-828 (2001).6.Diddams, S. A., Hollberg, L. & Mbele, V. Molecular fingerprinting with the resolved modes of a femtosecond laser frequency comb. Nature 445, 627-630 (2007).7.Thorpe, M. J., Moll, K. D., Jones, J. J., Safdi, B. & Ye, J. Broadband Cavity Ringdown Spectroscopy for Sensitive and Rapid Molecular Detection. Science 311, 1595-1599 (2006).8.Del Haye, P., Arcizet, O., Schliesser, A., Holzwarth, R. & Kippenberg, T. J. Full Stabilization of a Microresonator Frequency Comb. Physical Review Letters 101 (2008).9.Del Haye, P. et al. Optical frequency comb generation from a monolithic microresonator. Nature 450, 1214 (2007 ).10.Steinmeyer, G., Sutter, D. H., Gallmann, L., Matuschek, N. & Keller, U. Frontiers in ultrashort pulse generation: Pushing the limits in linear and nonlinear optics. Science 286, 1507-1512 (1999).