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Compact, stable and efficient all-fibre gas cells using hollow-core photonic crystal fibres


Gas-phase materials are used in a variety of laser-based applications—for example, in high-precision frequency measurement1,2, quantum optics and nonlinear optics3,4. Their full potential has however not been realized because of the lack of a suitable technology for creating gas cells that can guide light over long lengths in a single transverse mode while still offering a high level of integration in a practical and compact set-up or device. As a result, solid-phase materials are still often favoured, even when their performance compares unfavourably with gas-phase systems. Here we report the development of all-fibre gas cells that meet these challenges. Our structures are based on gas-filled hollow-core photonic crystal fibres, in which we have recently demonstrated substantially enhanced stimulated Raman scattering5,6, and which exhibit high performance, excellent long-term pressure stability and ease of use. To illustrate the practical potential of these structures, we report two different devices: a hydrogen-filled cell for efficient generation of rotational Raman scattering using only quasi-continuous-wave laser pulses; and acetylene-filled cells, which we use for absolute frequency-locking of diode lasers with very high signal-to-noise ratios. The stable performance of these compact gas-phase devices could permit, for example, gas-phase laser devices incorporated in a ‘credit card’ or even in a laser pointer.

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Figure 1: HC-PCF-based gas-cell assembly.
Figure 2: The SRS spectrum generated by a hydrogen-filled HC-PCF gas cell, and its behaviour as a function of time.
Figure 3: Transmission spectra of acetylene-filled HC-PCF gas cells.
Figure 4: All-fibre frequency stabilization and discrimination system using acetylene (C2H2)-filled cells.

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The support of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is acknowledged. F.B. thanks A. Luiten and M. Maric for discussions on frequency stabilization. F.B. is an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow.

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Correspondence to F. Benabid.

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Benabid, F., Couny, F., Knight, J. et al. Compact, stable and efficient all-fibre gas cells using hollow-core photonic crystal fibres. Nature 434, 488–491 (2005).

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