Abstract

Broadband characterization of the carrier-envelope phase (CEP) noise spectral density of free-running mode-locked lasers is essential for advanced low-noise optical frequency comb designs. Here we present a direct method that utilizes an optical heterodyne beat between a pair of repetition-rate-locked mode-locked lasers for CEP noise characterization, without requiring an f-2f interferometer or nonlinear optical conversion steps. A proof-of-principle experiment in a femtosecond Yb-fiber laser achieves CEP noise spectral density characterization with >270  dB dynamic range over a Fourier frequency range from 5 mHz to 8 MHz. The measurement noise floor is well below 1  μrad/Hz, enabling dependable detection down to a quantum-limited noise floor. The method can resolve various noise mechanisms that cause specific CEP noise spectral shapes. The underlying mechanisms are further analyzed in terms of spurious temporal correlation to distinguish between technical and stochastic noise signatures. Moreover, a Hadamard deviation analysis reveals a varying degree of frequency stability in the measured CEP time series.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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