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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Optical Metrology

Thilo Schuldt, Klaus Döringshoff, Alexander Milke, Josep Sanjuan, Martin Gohlke, Evgeny V Kovalchuk, Norman Gürlebeck, Achim Peters, and Claus Braxmaier (2016)

High-Performance Optical Frequency References for Space

Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 723(1):012047.

A variety of future space missions rely on the availability of high-performance optical clocks with applications in fundamental physics, geoscience, Earth observation and navigation and ranging. Examples are the gravitational wave detector eLISA (evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna), the Earth gravity mission NGGM (Next Generation Gravity Mission) and missions, dedicated to tests of Special Relativity, e.g. by performing a Kennedy- Thorndike experiment testing the boost dependence of the speed of light. In this context we developed optical frequency references based on Doppler-free spectroscopy of molecular iodine; compactness and mechanical and thermal stability are main design criteria. With a setup on engineering model (EM) level we demonstrated a frequency stability of about 2·10 -14 at an integration time of 1 s and below 6·10 -15 at integration times between 100s and 1000s, determined from a beat-note measurement with a cavity stabilized laser where a linear drift was removed from the data. A cavity-based frequency reference with focus on improved long-term frequency stability is currently under development. A specific sixfold thermal shield design based on analytical methods and numerical calculations is presented.