Frequency-agile laser frequency combs take real-time multicolour snapshots of absorbing samples.
Electro-optic modulators, which can switch light on and off within just picoseconds, are enabling ever faster telecommunication over optical glass fibres, so that large movies can be streamed more smoothly across oceans into our homes.
The same tools have now been harnessed for high-speed and accurate molecular sensing, as reported by an international collaboration around Dr. Nathalie Picqué, Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, in a letter published in Nature Photonics, 21 December 2015. The collaboration partners are with the Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Carnot de Bourgogne (France) and the Institut des Sciences Moléculaires d’Orsay (France).
Molecules absorb light at well-defined particular colours or optical frequencies. Usually such characteristic frequencies are located in the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Precisely measuring a set of such absorption dips unambiguously identifies the molecules and quantifies their abundance in the probed environment.
Because detection of molecules by optical absorption spectroscopy is sensitive and nonintrusive, it finds an increasing number of applications, from biomedical diagnostics to atmospheric sensing. In the gas phase, the absorption lines are narrow so that high spectral resolution is needed to distinguish the different lines. Although many powerful spectroscopic techniques have been developed, rapid and precise high-resolution sensing is still a challenge.
A team of scientists at MPQ reports a promising new technique of near-infrared spectroscopy. They use modulators and a nonlinear optical fibre to produce two frequency combs, each with more than a thousand evenly spaced infrared spectral lines with a remarkably flat intensity distribution.
Line spacing and spectral position can be selected quickly and freely by simply dialing a knob. Such frequency-agile optical combs offer unprecedented freedom when interrogating a molecular spectrum via a powerful technique called multiplexed dual-comb spectroscopy.
Two mutually coherent combs are combined in an interferometer. Unprecedented refresh rates (80 kHz) and tuning speeds (10 nm s to the minus 1) at high signal-to-noise ratio are achieved. Such unique combination holds much promise for trace gas sensing, a domain relevant to physics, biology, chemistry, industry or atmospheric sciences.
“Furthermore, the frequency-agile frequency comb generator might also become an enabling tool for applications beyond spectroscopy, like for arbitrary waveform generation, radio-frequency photonics, optical coherence tomography or microscopy”, concludes Dr. Ming Yan, a post-doc working at the experiment.
G. Millot, S. Pitois, M. Yan, T. Hovhannisyan, A. Bendahmane, T.W. Hänsch, N. Picqué
Frequency-agile dual-comb spectroscopy
Nature Photonics, Advance online publication, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2015.250 (December 21st, 2015)
Dr. Nathalie Picqué
Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
85748 Garching b. München
Telefon: +49 (0)89 / 32 905 -290
Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng
Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, Garching b. München
Telefon: +49 (0)89 / 32 905 -213
Dr. Olivia Meyer-Streng | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik
Electrocatalysis can advance green transition
23.01.2017 | Technical University of Denmark
Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin
23.01.2017 | Ferdinand-Braun-Institut Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering