Optical feedback frequency-stabilized cavity ring-down spectroscopy - Highly coherent near-infrared laser sources and metrological applications in molecular absorption spectroscopy

Abstract : High-precision molecular absorption spectroscopy is a powerful tool for fundamental physics and metrology, as well as for a broad range of applications in fields such as environmental sciences, planetology and astrophysics. In recent years, spectroscopic techniques based on the enhanced interaction of laser light with molecular samples in high-finesse optical cavities have provided outstanding detection sensitivities on the absorption axis, while the spectrometer frequency axis rarely met as high precision standards.In this thesis, we addressed this challenge by the development of Optical Feedback Frequency-Stabilized Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy (OFFS-CRDS). This novel technique features a unique combination of sub-kHz frequency resolution and stability, kW/cm^2-level intracavity light intensity, a shot-noise limited absorption detectivity down to 2 x 10^(−13) cm^(−1)Hz^(-1/2), as well as a detection limit of 8.4 x 10^(−14) cm^(−1) on a narrow spectral interval. This unprecedented performance is based on the tight Pound-Drever-Hall lock of the ring-down cavity to a single-sideband-tuned distributed-feedback diode laser which is optical-feedback-stabilized to a highly stable V-shaped reference cavity. To transfer the coherence of this sub-kHz laser source to noisier lasers in other spectral regions through an optical frequency comb, we have explored a novel high-bandwidth feed-forward phase cloning scheme and demonstrated a residual phase error as low as 113 mrad. Applying OFFS-CRDS to the spectroscopy of CO_2 near 1.6 μm, we obtained a broadband spectrum with a dynamic range of 8 x 10^5 and retrieved twelve absolute transition frequencies with kHz-accuracy by measuring sub-Doppler saturated absorption Lamb dips with a comb-assisted setup. Furthermore, we have performed a comprehensive analysis of systematic error sources in CRDS and derived an analytic formula for the non-exponential ring-down signal in a weakly saturated regime, which may contribute towards future concentration-independent transition dipole moment measurements. Our results open up promising perspectives for metrological applications of OFFS-CRDS, such as advanced absorption lineshape studies, isotopic ratio measurements and extensive saturated absorption spectroscopy in the near infrared.
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Johannes Burkart. Optical feedback frequency-stabilized cavity ring-down spectroscopy - Highly coherent near-infrared laser sources and metrological applications in molecular absorption spectroscopy. Condensed Matter [cond-mat]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015GREAY045⟩. ⟨tel-01280323⟩

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