Precise laser remote sensing of aerosol extinction and backscatter in the atmosphere requires a high-power, pulsed, frequency doubled Nd:YAG laser that is wavelength-stabilized to a narrow absorption line such as found in iodine vapor. One method for precise wavelength control is to injection seed the Nd:YAG laser with a low-power CW laser that is stabilized by frequency converting a fraction of the beam to 532 nm, and to actively frequency-lock it to an iodine vapor absorption line. While the feasibility of this approach has been demonstrated using bulk optics in NASA Langley’s Airborne High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) program, an ideal, lower cost solution is to develop an all-waveguide, frequency-locked seed laser in a compact, robust package that will withstand the temperature, shock, and vibration levels associated with airborne and space-based remote sensing platforms.

A key technology leading to this miniaturization is the integration of an efficient waveguide frequency doubling element, and a low-voltage phase modulation element into a single, monolithic, planar light-wave circuit (PLC). The PLC concept advances NASA’s future lidar systems due to its compact, efficient and reliable design, thus enabling use on small aircraft and satellites. The immediate application for this technology is targeted for NASA Langley’s HRSL system for aerosol and cloud characterization. This Phase I effort proposes the development of a potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) waveguide phase modulator for future integration into a PLC.

For this innovation, the proposed device is the integration of a waveguide-based frequency doubler and phase modulator in a single, fiber pigtail device that will be capable of efficient second harmonic generation of 1,064-nm light and subsequent phase modulation of the 532 nm light at 250 MHz, providing a properly spectrally formatted beam for HSRL’s seed laser locking system. Fabrication of the integrated PLC chip for NASA Langley, planned for the Phase II effort, will require full integration and optimization of the waveguide components (SHG waveguide, splitters, and phase modulator) onto a single, monolithic device. The PLC will greatly reduce the size and weight, improve electrical-to-optical efficiency, and significantly reduce the cost of NASA Langley’s current stabilized HSRL seed laser system built around a commercial off-the-shelf seed laser that is free-space coupled to a bulk doubler and bulk phase modulator.

This work was done by Anthony Cook of Langley Research Center and Shirley McNeil, Gregg Switzer, and Philip Battle of AdvR, Inc. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at under the Physical Sciences category. LAR-17568-1

Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2010 issue of Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine.

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