Single laser atom interferometer

Double modulating a single laser to produce all required frequencies for an atom interferometer using laser cooled atoms

Photonics Electronics

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The Navy’s atom interferometer would only require one laser instead of four.

Atom interferometers are often used to make high-precision measurements of forces, such as those due to acceleration, rotation, or magnetic fields. They have application in both academic research and industry.

Typically, atom interferometers based on laser-cooled atoms require several lasers because of the need for several frequencies of light. These frequencies include the cooling frequency (near to a cycling atomic resonance), a repump frequency, and two frequencies far from the atomic cycling frequency, but whose frequency difference equals the atomic ground state frequency separation (Raman frequencies #1 and #2). These four lasers must be frequency stabilized, which requires complicated electronic feedback systems for each individual laser.

Navy researchers have developed a single laser atom interferometer that is less-complicated, smaller, and less-expensive. The core of the device is a modulated laser driven by direct current for frequency tuning, and an alternating current with two radio frequencies that can generate repump and Raman frequencies, such that only one laser is needed to produce all the frequencies required for operation.

This US patent 9,671,216 is related to US patent 8,289,018 titled: Gradient magetometer atom interferometer which discloses a magnetometer that provides increased sensitivity and still performs well in magnetically noisy environments. The claims disclosed in the modulated laser for atom interferometers (9,671,216) patent can be utilized in the gradient magnetometer atom interferometer (8,289,018).

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