Dual-comb spectroscopy systems based on two pulse trains emitted from a single laser cavity benefit from passive mutual coherence between the two pulse trains, which leads to common-mode noise cancellation in the down converted radio-frequency (RF)-comb . Due to their robustness, single cavity dual-color/dual-comb fiber lasers are promising candidates for such spectroscopy systems [2,3]. Here, we present a novel method to generate two pulse trains out of a single fiber laser cavity based on mechanical spectral filtering, which offers two key features: dynamical adjustment of the spectral separation between the two pulse trains and tuning of the difference in repetition rates. After demonstrating the concept in a 23-MHz nonlinear polarization evolution (NPE) mode-locked ytterbium (Yb) laser , we have now for the first time implemented this concept in a nonlinear amplified loop mirror (NALM) mode-locked all-polarization maintaining (PM) Yb:fiber laser operating at a repetition rate of 77 MHz, thus improving both the stability as well as the non-aliasing dual-comb bandwidth. The laser contains a free-space arm with a transmission grating compressor, in which the spectral components of the intra-cavity light are spatially dispersed (Fig.1(a)). By introducing a small beam block into the grating compressor, we split the spectrum into two separate regions. We show that these two spectral regions can be independently mode-locked, thus creating two pulse trains with slightly different repetition rates (Fig.1(b-d)). Due to the spatial distribution of the spectral components, we can vary the width of the spectral cut between the two spectra by rotating the beam block (Fig. 1(b), blue curves). Furthermore, adjusting the grating spacing (and thus the amount of dispersion) allows us to tune the difference in the repetition rate ∆frep from 1-6 kHz (Fig. 1(e)). After spectral separation at the cavity output, the pulse centered around 1030 nm is amplified and broadened in a nonlinear fiber to create a spectral overlap with the 1060 nm-pulse (Fig. 1(f)). The overlapping spectrum is bandpass-filtered around 1055 nm and sent onto a photodiode (PD). An oscilloscope trace of the PD output shows interferograms (Fig. 1(f), inset) occurring with a periodicity of 1/∆frep, which correspond to the Fourier-transform of the down-converted RF comb that is generated by the beating of both optical combs.
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