Abstract

We demonstrate a method of controlling the alignment of a laser beam to a Fabry–Perot resonator through synchronous detection of the misalignment arising from modulating the orientation of a single beam-steering mirror. The horizontal and vertical tilt of the mirror are modulated in quadrature to drive a circular motion of the beam orientation. A corresponding modulation of the intensity of the optical field circulating in the cavity is measured at either the reflected or transmitted port and demodulated synchronously to derive two error signals to indicate the vertical and horizontal misalignment. These signals are fed back to the beam-steering mirror to suppress fluctuations below 30Hz. This method avoids the complexity of monitoring off-axis cavity modes and is particularly effective in the case where unwanted pointing fluctuations are introduced by one or two elements in the optical setup. We have applied the technique to two Fabry–Perot resonators in use as precision frequency references, delivering a result of 10dB suppression of alignment fluctuations at 1Hz and an improvement in frequency stability by up to a factor of 4.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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