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Advances in terahertz frequency combs

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Title: Advances in terahertz frequency combs
Author: Stead, Robert A.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy - PhD
Program Physics
Copyright Date: 2012
Publicly Available in cIRcle 2012-10-17
Abstract: Following a review of the theory of terahertz generation via optical rectification in nonlinear crystals, a method for enhancing the nonlinear conversion efficiency of this process is proposed. A nonlinear crystal is placed at the intracavity focus of a passive optical resonator, which is seeded by an ytterbium-doped fibre laser. Models of this arrangement indicate that an enhancement of the optical field of several orders of magnitude is possible. As the difference frequency radiation produced through the optical rectification process results from a mixing of the spectral components of the optical field, one expects a corresponding increase in the terahertz field. We present a design of optical resonator that compensates for the large group velocity dispersion of the nonlinear crystal. Our experimental results indicate that below bandgap absorption in the crystal severely limits the resulting enhancement of the optical field, and hence the terahertz field one would expect from this nonlinear process. A scanning-delay terahertz time-domain spectrometer has been constructed, using a gallium phosphide guiding structure to increase the interaction length of the optical and terahertz fields, thereby increasing the terahertz power produced. Our experiment demonstrates 20 dB signal to noise ratio over the spectral range of 0.5-1 THz. We propose a method for increasing the spectral resolution, whilst simultaneously reducing the required data acquisition time of such a terahertz spectrometer, through the use of two femtosecond optical frequency combs. One of these fields drives the nonlinear optical rectification process, whilst the second serves as a sampling local oscillator field to probe the terahertz field via electro-optic sampling in a second nonlinear crystal. By precisely controlling the relative pulse repetition rates of the two oscillators, we show that the full spectral content of the terahertz field can be acquired at rf frequencies, and without the slow mechanical delay lines associated with conventional terahertz time-domain spectroscopy. Finally, we present experimental efforts towards the demonstration of this technique, and show that, to be effective, steps must be taken to increase the strength of the expected rf signal over that of the measurement noise floor.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/43450
Scholarly Level: Graduate

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