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Discerning comb and Fourier mean frequency from an fs laser based on the principle of non-interaction of waves
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Paper Abstract

The key objective of this article is to underscore that as engineers, we need to pay close attention in repeatedly validating and re-validating the underlying physical processes behind a working theory that models a phenomenon we are using to create tools and technologies. We use the test case, the prevailing mode-lock theory, to illustrate our views by identifying existing contradictions and showing approach towards their resolution by identifying the relevant physical processes. The current theory tells us that the Fourier summation of all the allowed cavity modes directly produces the train of pulses. It effectively assumes that electromagnetic (EM) waves are capable of re-organizing their spatial and temporal energy distribution to generate a train of temporal pulses while preserving the spatial mode energy distribution. The implication is that EM waves interact with each other by themselves. Even though the theory is working, we have three logical problems. First, in the real world, in the linear domain, waves never interact with each other. On careful analysis of all types of interference experiments, we will recognize that only in the presence of some interacting material medium can we observe the physical superposition EFFECT. In other words, detectors carryout the superposition effect we call interference phenomenon, through the summation of their multiple simultaneous linear stimulations and then absorbing energy proportional to the square modulus of the sum total stimulation. Second, a Fourier monochromatic wave, existing in all space and time, is a non-causal hypothesis. Just because our theories are working does not mean that we have understood the real physical interaction processes in nature. We need to build our theories based upon space and time finite EM wave packet containing a finite amount of energy, which is a causal approach. Third, in spite of staggering successes of Quantum Mechanics, we do not yet have a self consistent model for space and time finite model of a photon. QM only predicts that EM energy emission (spontaneous and stimulated) takes place only in a discrete amount at a time from atoms and molecules. It does not give us recipe about how to visualize a propagating photon as it expands diffractively. However, Huygens-Fresnel's classical diffraction integral gives us a rigorous model, which is the cornerstone of modeling evolution of laser cavity modes, CW or pulsed. In this paper, we highlight the contradictions that arise out of the prevailing mode-lock theory and resolve them by using causal models, already underscored above. For example, there are now a wide range of very successful technological applications of the frequency comb extracted out of fs lasers. If the Fourier summation were the correct physical process, then all the cavity modes would have been summed (converted) into a single mean frequency around the gain line center for perfectly mode-locked systems. Further, sending such fs pulses through an optical spectrometer would have always displayed a transform limited fringe, centering on the mean Fourier frequency, rather than generating the comb frequencies, albeit instrumentally broadened. Output pulse train from a phase locked laser is functionally produced due to the oscillatory time-gating behavior of the intra-cavity phase-locking devices. So, we need to pay more attention to the fast temporal behavior of the materials we use for achieving very fast time-gating, since this material imposes phase locking on the cavity modes to enhance its own high-contrast time-gating behavior.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 February 2012
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 8236, Laser Resonators, Microresonators, and Beam Control XIV, 82360G (6 February 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.906493
Show Author Affiliations
Chandrasekhar Roychoudhuri, Univ. of Connecticut (United States)
Narasimha Prasad, NASA Langley Research Ctr. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8236:
Laser Resonators, Microresonators, and Beam Control XIV
Alexis V. Kudryashov; Alan H. Paxton; Vladimir S. Ilchenko, Editor(s)

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