, Volume 95, Issue 4, pp 661-666
Date: 19 Apr 2009

Femtosecond fiber laser based methane optical clock

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An optical clock based on an Er3+ fiber femtosecond laser and a two-mode He–Ne/CH4 optical frequency standard (λ=3.39 μm) is realized. Difference-frequency generation is used to down convert the 1.5-μm frequency comb of the Er3+ femtosecond laser to the 3.4-μm range. The generated infrared comb overlaps with the He–Ne/CH4 laser wavelength and does not depend on the carrier–envelope offset frequency of the 1.5-μm comb. In this way a direct phase-coherent connection between the optical frequency of the He–Ne/CH4 standard and the radio frequency pulse repetition rate of the fiber laser is established. The stability of the optical clock is measured against a commercial hydrogen maser. The measured relative instability is 1×10−12 at 1 s and for averaging times less than 50 s it is determined by the microwave standard, while for longer times a drift of the He–Ne/CH4 optical standard is dominant.