Phase-locking to a free-space terahertz comb for metrological-grade terahertz lasers

Nat Commun. 2012;3:1040. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2048.

Abstract

Optical frequency comb synthesizers have represented a revolutionary approach to frequency metrology, providing a grid of frequency references for any laser emitting within their spectral coverage. Extending the metrological features of optical frequency comb synthesizers to the terahertz domain would be a major breakthrough, due to the widespread range of accessible strategic applications and the availability of stable, high-power and widely tunable sources such as quantum cascade lasers. Here we demonstrate phase-locking of a 2.5 THz quantum cascade laser to a free-space comb, generated in a LiNbO(3) waveguide and covering the 0.1-6 THz frequency range. We show that even a small fraction (<100 nW) of the radiation emitted from the quantum cascade laser is sufficient to generate a beat note suitable for phase-locking to the comb, paving the way to novel metrological-grade terahertz applications, including high-resolution spectroscopy, manipulation of cold molecules, astronomy and telecommunications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't