An ultrafast electro-optic light source with sub-cycle precision

Research paper by David R. Carlson, Daniel D. Hickstein, Wei Zhang, Andrew J. Metcalf, Franklyn Quinlan, Scott A. Diddams, Scott B. Papp

Indexed on: 22 Nov '17Published on: 22 Nov '17Published in: arXiv - Physics - Optics


Controlling femtosecond optical pulses with temporal precision better than one cycle of the carrier field has a profound impact on measuring and manipulating interactions between light and matter. We explore pulses that are carved from a continuous-wave laser via electro-optic modulation and realize the regime of sub-cycle optical control without a mode-locked resonator. Our ultrafast source, with a repetition rate of 10 GHz, is derived from an optical-cavity-stabilized laser and a microwave-cavity-stabilized electronic oscillator. Sub-cycle timing jitter of the pulse train is achieved by coherently linking the laser and oscillator through carrier-envelope phase stabilization enabled by a photonic-chip supercontinuum that spans up to 1.9 octaves across the near infrared. Moreover, the techniques we report are relevant for other ultrafast lasers with repetition rates up to 30 GHz and may allow stable few-cycle pulses to be produced by a wider range of sources.