Frequency combs are a massively parallel source of extremely accurate optical frequencies. Frequency combs generally operate at the visible or near-infrared wavelengths, but fundamental molecular vibrations occur at midinfrared wavelengths. We demonstrate an optically-referenced, broadband midinfrared frequency comb based on a doublyresonant optical parametric oscillator (OPO). By tuning the wavelength of the reference laser, the comb line frequencies are tuned as well. By scanning the reference wavelength, any frequency can be accessed, not just the frequencies of the base comb. Combined with our comb-resolving Fourier transform spectrometer, we can measure 200 wavenumber wide broadband absorption spectra with 200 kHz linewidth comb teeth.
Our OPO is pumped by an amplified Tm fiber frequency comb, with phase-locked carrier envelope offset frequency, and repetition rate fixed by phase-locking a frequency comb line to a narrow linewidth diode laser at a telecom channel. The frequency comb is referenced to GPS by long-term stabilization of the repetition rate to a selected value using the temperature of the reference laser as the control. The resulting pump comb is about 3W of 100 fs pulses at 418 MHz repetition rate at 1950 nm. Part of the comb is used for supercontinuum generation for frequency stabilization, and the rest pumps an orientation-patterned gallium arsenide (OP-GaAs) crystal in a doubly-resonant optical parametric oscillator cavity, yielding collinear signal and idler beams from about 3 to 5.5 μm.
We verify comb scanning by resolving the 200 MHz wide absorption lines of the entire fundamental CO vibrational manifold at 11 Torr pressure.