Applied Physics B

, Volume 91, Issue 3–4, pp 397–414

Cavity-enhanced direct frequency comb spectroscopy

Invited paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00340-008-3019-1

Cite this article as:
Thorpe, M. & Ye, J. Appl. Phys. B (2008) 91: 397. doi:10.1007/s00340-008-3019-1


Cavity-enhanced direct frequency comb spectroscopy combines broad spectral bandwidth, high spectral resolution, precise frequency calibration, and ultrahigh detection sensitivity, all in one experimental platform based on an optical frequency comb interacting with a high-finesse optical cavity. Precise control of the optical frequency comb allows highly efficient, coherent coupling of individual comb components with corresponding resonant modes of the high-finesse cavity. The long cavity lifetime dramatically enhances the effective interaction between the light field and intracavity matter, increasing the sensitivity for measurement of optical losses by a factor that is on the order of the cavity finesse. The use of low-dispersion mirrors permits almost the entire spectral bandwidth of the frequency comb to be employed for detection, covering a range of ∼ 10% of the actual optical frequency. The light transmitted from the cavity is spectrally resolved to provide a multitude of detection channels with spectral resolutions ranging from several gigahertz to hundreds of kilohertz. In this review we will discuss the principle of cavity-enhanced direct frequency comb spectroscopy and the various implementations of such systems. In particular, we discuss several types of UV, optical, and IR frequency comb sources and optical cavity designs that can be used for specific spectroscopic applications. We present several cavity-comb coupling methods to take advantage of the broad spectral bandwidth and narrow spectral components of a frequency comb. Finally, we present a series of experimental measurements on trace gas detections, human breath analysis, and characterization of cold molecular beams. These results demonstrate clearly that the wide bandwidth and ultrasensitive nature of the femtosecond enhancement cavity enables powerful real-time detection and identification of many molecular species in a massively parallel fashion.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.JILA, National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Colorado and Department of Physics, University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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