An all-photonic, dynamic device for flattening the spectrum of a laser frequency comb for precise calibration of radial velocity measurements

Nemanja Jovanovic, Pradip Gatkine, Boqiang Shen, Maodong Gao, Nick Cvetojevic, Katarzyna Ławniczuk, Ronald Broeke, Charles Beichman, Stephanie Leifer, Jeffery Jewell, Gautam Vasisht, Dimitri Mawet

Submitted on 20 September 2022


Laser frequency combs are fast becoming critical to reaching the highest radial velocity precisions. One shortcoming is the highly variable brightness of the comb lines across the spectrum (up to 4-5 orders of magnitude). This can result in some lines saturating while others are at low signal and lost in the noise. Losing lines to either of these effects reduces the precision and hence effectiveness of the comb. In addition, the brightness of the comb lines can vary with time which could drive comb lines with initially reasonable SNR's into the two regimes described above. To mitigate these two effects, laser frequency combs use optical flattener's. Flattener's are typically bulk optic setups that disperse the comb light with a grating, and then use a spatial light modulator to control the amplitude across the spectrum before recombining the light into another single mode fiber and sending it to the spectrograph. These setups can be large (small bench top), expensive (several hundred thousand dollars) and have limited stability. To address these issues, we have developed an all-photonic spectrum flattener on a chip. The device is constructed from optical waveguides on a SiN chip. The light from the laser frequency comb's output optical fiber can be directly connected to the chip, where the light is first dispersed using an arrayed waveguide grating. To control the brightness of each channel, the light is passed through a Mach-Zehnder interferometer before being recombined with a second arrayed waveguide grating. Thermo-optic phase modulators are used in each channel before recombination to path length match the channels as needed. Here we present the results from our first generation prototype. The device operates from 1400-1800 nm (covering the H band), with 20, 20 nm wide channels.


Comment: 7 pages, 5 figures, conference

Subjects: Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics; Physics - Instrumentation and Detectors; Physics - Optics