AdvR, through support of the NASA SBIR program, has developed fiber-based components and sub-systems that are routinely used on NASA’s airborne missions, and is now developing an environmentally hardened, diode-based, locked wavelength, seed laser for future space-based high spectral resolution lidar applications. The seed laser source utilizes a fiber-coupled diode laser, a fiber-coupled, calibrated iodine reference module to provide an absolute wavelength reference, and an integrated, dual-element, nonlinear optical waveguide component for second harmonic generation, spectral formatting and wavelength locking. The diode laser operates over a range close to 1064.5 nm, provides for stabilization of the seed to the desired iodine transition and allows for a highly-efficient, fully-integrated seed source that is well-suited for use in airborne and space-based environments. A summary of component level environmental testing and spectral purity measurements with a seeded Nd:YAG laser will be presented. A direct-diode, wavelength-locked seed laser will reduce the overall size weight and power (SWaP) requirements of the laser transmitter, thus directly addressing the need for developing compact, efficient, lidar component technologies for use in airborne and space-based environments.
We have designed and completed initial testing on a laser source suitable for atomic interferometry from compact, robust, integrated components. Our design is enabled by capitalizing on robust, well-commercialized, low-noise telecom components with high reliability and declining costs which will help to drive the widespread deployment of this system. The key innovation is the combination of current telecom-based fiber laser and modulator technology with periodicallypoled waveguide technology to produce tunable laser light at rubidium D1 and D2 wavelengths (and expandable to other alkalis) using second harmonic generation (SHG). Unlike direct-diode sources, this source is immune to feedback at the Rb line eliminating the need for bulky high-power isolators in the system. In addition, the source has GHz-level frequency agility and in our experiments was found to only be limited by the agility of our RF generator. As a proof-of principle, the source was scanned through the Doppler-broadened Rb D2 absorption line. With this technology, multiple channels can be independently tuned to produce the fields needed for addressing atomic states in atom interferometers and clocks. Thus, this technology could be useful in the development cold-atom inertial sensors and gyroscopes.
The combination of high brightness laser diodes and periodically poled (PP) waveguide crystals for the generation of blue light at the technically interesting wavelength of 488 nm is promising. Although PPKTP has a lower nonlinear coefficient compared to PPLN it is of interest for the use in such devices. Because of its higher photorefractive damage threshold, it is well suited for operation at room temperature. In this work, a DFB laser as well as a tunable external cavity enhanced broad area diode laser (ECDL) are used for second harmonic generation using a waveguide PPKTP crystal. Both lasers yield several hundred Miliwatts of diffraction limited light around a center wavelength of 976 nm with excellent spectral properties. The ECDL system is further tunable over a broad range of 40 nm. The PPKTP crystal has a length of 12 mm and the 4 μm x 8 μm waveguides are manufactured by ion exchange followed by a patented submount poling technique. By using a DFB laser diode as pump source a laser to waveguide coupling efficiency of more than 55% could be achieved. A maximum output power of 66.7 mW could be generated out of 220 mW infrared light inside the waveguide channel at room temperature. This results in a conversion efficiency of more than 260%/W.
Diode lasers provide a high degree of flexibility in signal shaping. Picosecond pulses with repetition rates from single shot to 80 MHz or arbitrary modulation formats with GHz bandwidth can be achieved through appropriate electrical drivers without changing the optical configuration. The limitations, however, of single mode diode lasers are low (mW) power levels and a lack of emission wavelengths between 470 and 630 nm. Optical amplification can extend single mode diode lasers to higher power levels where frequency doubling becomes a suitable option e.g. for producing green light at 530 nm. Ytterbium-doped fiber amplifiers (YDFA) show robust and stable operation at 1064 nm with amplifications of about 20 dB. We present a fiber amplified and frequency doubled diode laser that emits green picosecond pulses at variable repetition frequencies with an average output power of several milliwatts. Compared to existing semiconductor-amplified systems, higher stability at significantly smaller size and lower power consumption is achieved.