In an alternative version of a proposed bimaterial thermal compensator for a whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) optical resonator, a mechanical element having nonlinear stiffness would be added to enable stabilization of a desired resonance frequency at a suitable fixed working temperature. The previous version was described in “Bimaterial Thermal Compensators for WGM Resonators” (NPO-44441), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 32, No. 10 (October 2008), page 96. Both versions are intended to serve as inexpensive means of preventing (to first order) or reducing temperature-related changes in resonance frequencies.

A Component Having Nonlinear Stiffness and a means of temperature control would be added to a previous, basic version of a bimaterial compensator for a WGM resonator. In both versions, a temperature- dependent stress would be applied to counteract the temperature dependence of the spectrum of the uncompensated resonator.

A bimaterial compensator would apply, to a WGM resonator, a force that would slightly change the shape of the resonator and thereby change its resonance frequencies. Through suitable choice of the design of the compensator, it should be possible to make the temperature dependence of the force-induced frequency shift equal in magnitude and opposite in sign to the temperature dependence of the frequency shift of the uncompensated resonator so that, to first order, a change in temperature would cause zero net change in frequency.

Because the version now proposed is similar to the previous version in most respects, it is necessary to recapitulate most of the description from the cited prior article, with appropriate modifications. In both the previous and present versions (see figure), a compensator as proposed would include (1) a frame made of one material having a thermal-expansion coefficient α1 and (2) a spacer made of another material having a thermalexpansion coefficient α2. The WGM resonator would be sandwiched between disks, and the resulting sandwich would be squeezed between the frame and the spacer. Assuming that the cross-sectional area of the frame greatly exceeded the cross-sectional area of the spacer and that the thickness of the sandwich was small relative to the length of the spacer, the net rate of change of a resonance frequency with changing temperature would be given by

df/dT∂f/∂T + (∂f/∂F)S2E22 – α1)

where f is the resonance frequency, T is temperature, ∂f/∂T is the rate of change of resonance frequency as a function of temperature of the uncompensated resonator, ∂f/∂F is the rate of change of frequency as a function of applied force F at constant temperature, S2 is the effective cross-sectional area of the spacer, and E2 is the modulus of elasticity of the spacer.

In principle, through appropriate choice of materials and geometry, one could obtain temperature compensation — that is, one could make df/dT ≈ 0. For example, the effective spacer cross-sectional area for temperature compensation is given by

S2 ≈ (∂f/∂T)/[(∂f/∂F)E21 – α2)].

In practice, because of inevitable manufacturing errors and imprecise knowledge of thermomechanical responses of structural components, it is difficult or impossible to obtain exact temperature compensation of frequency through selection of S2.

According to the present proposal, to make it possible to obtain exact temperature compensation, one would add a component having a nonlinear stiffness to the mechanical load path and would place the entire resonator-and-compensator assembly on a thermoelectric controller, in an oven, or both. Then the temperature dependence of frequency would be approximately quadratic and the net derivative of frequency with respect to temperature would be given by

df/dT∂f/∂T + (∂f/∂F)S2E22 – α1) + AΔT

where A is a parameter that characterizes the nonlinearity to lowest order in temperature and ΔT is the difference between the present temperature and some other temperature, which could be a target temperature. To find the target temperature that gives exact temperature compensation, one sets the derivative equal to zero and solves for ΔT:

ΔTM ≈ –A–1[∂f/∂T + (∂f/∂F)S2E22 – α1)]

The oven and/or the thermoelectric controller could be used to set the temperature to the exact compensation temperature. Even if the exact values of A, ∂f/∂T, ∂f/∂F, S2, E2, α1, and α2 were not known in advance, one could still determine the exact compensation temperature by measuring frequency as a function of temperature and finding the lowest point on the approximately quadratic frequency-versus-temperature curve.

This work was done by Anatoliy Savchenkov, Andrey Matsko, Dmitry Strekalov, Lute Maleki, Nan Yu, and Vladimir Iltchenko of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Innovative Technology Assets Management
Mail Stop 202-233
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109-8099
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Refer to NPO-44567, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

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This article first appeared in the September, 2009 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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