Research ArticleOPTICS

Direct Kerr frequency comb atomic spectroscopy and stabilization

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Science Advances  28 Feb 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 9, eaax6230
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax6230


Microresonator-based soliton frequency combs, microcombs, have recently emerged to offer low-noise, photonic-chip sources for applications, spanning from timekeeping to optical-frequency synthesis and ranging. Broad optical bandwidth, brightness, coherence, and frequency stability have made frequency combs important to directly probe atoms and molecules, especially in trace gas detection, multiphoton light-atom interactions, and spectroscopy in the extreme ultraviolet. Here, we explore direct microcomb atomic spectroscopy, using a cascaded, two-photon 1529-nm atomic transition in a rubidium micromachined cell. Fine and simultaneous repetition rate and carrier-envelope offset frequency control of the soliton enables direct sub-Doppler and hyperfine spectroscopy. Moreover, the entire set of microcomb modes are stabilized to this atomic transition, yielding absolute optical-frequency fluctuations at the kilohertz level over a few seconds and <1-MHz day-to-day accuracy. Our work demonstrates direct atomic spectroscopy with Kerr microcombs and provides an atomic-stabilized microcomb laser source, operating across the telecom band for sensing, dimensional metrology, and communication.

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