Laser frequency stabilisation in the telecommunications band was realised using the Pound-Drever-Hall (PDH) error signal. The transmission spectrum of the Fabry-Perot cavity was used as opposed to the traditionally used reflected spectrum. A comparison was done using an analogue as well as a digitally implemented system. This study forms part of an initial step towards developing a portable optical time and frequency standard.
The frequency discriminator used in the experimental setup was a fibre-based Fabry-Perot etalon. The phase sensitive system made use of the optical heterodyne technique to detect changes in the phase of the system. A lock-in amplifier was used to filter and mix the input signals to generate the error signal. This error signal may then be used to generate a control signal via a PID controller. An error signal was realised at a wavelength of 1556 nm which correlates to an optical frequency of 1.926 THz. An implementation of the analogue PDH technique yielded an error signal with a bandwidth of 6.134 GHz, while a digital implementation yielded a bandwidth of 5.774 GHz.
The National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA) is developing a new optical frequency standard based on the Rubidium two-photon transition in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards (NIS, Egypt) that will use both bulk and fiber optics in the system. This is system is called A-POD; an acronym for a portable photonic oscillator device. Rubidium two-photon standards can yield relatively simple and precise standards that are compatible with standard Ti:Sapphire optical frequency combs, as well as the need for a precise frequency standard in the optical telecommunication domain and for measurement of length with a visible beam. The robustness and transportability of the standard are important considerations for the optical frequency standard. This projects implements a framework for better two-photon standards that can be highly accurate, and possibly compete with much more complex clocks in the metrology environment, and especially so in the smaller national metrology institutes found in the developing world. This paper discusses the design constraints and the development considerations towards the optical setup. The robustness and transportability was greatly improved via the usage of optical fiber in the light source of the system, or even in atom-light interaction region. Of particular importance are the beam parameters inside the atomic interaction area. The extent of Doppler broadening and the intensity dependent line shift have to be optimized within practical extents, where both these aspects are affected by the beam shape and optical geometry. A way to fully treat the optical beam effects together with atomic movement is proposed. Furthermore a method is proposed to do real time compensation of intensity dependent light shift, which could have major applicability to frequency standards in general - the complexity is shifted from physical setups to digital signal processing, which is easily adaptable and stable.