Carrier-envelope offset phase control: A novel concept for absolute optical frequency measurement and ultrashort pulse generation
The shortest pulses periodically emitted directly from a mode-locked Ti:sapphire laser are approaching the two-optical-cycle range. In this region, the phase of the optical carrier with respect to the pulse envelope becomes important in nonlinear optical processes such as high-harmonic generation. Because there are no locking mechanisms between envelope and carrier inside a laser, their relative phase offset experiences random fluctuations. Here, we propose several novel methods to measure and to stabilize this carrier-envelope offset (CEO) phase with sub-femtosecond uncertainty. The stabilization methods are an important prerequisite for attosecond pulse generation schemes. Short and highly periodic pulses of a two-cycle laser correspond to an extremely wide frequency comb of equally spaced lines, which can be used for absolute frequency measurements. Using the proposed phase-measurement methods, it will be possible to phase-coherently link any unknown optical frequency within the comb spectrum to a primary microwave standard. Experimental studies using a sub-6-fs Ti:sapphire laser suggesting the feasibility of carrier-envelope phase control are presented.
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