The invention of optical frequency combs revolutionized numerous fields in metrology and was honoured by the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics. Frequency combs have many new emerging applications in optical telecommunications, broadband high-precision spectroscopy and sensing, etc. Monitoring of environmentally relevant gases and pollutants, medical sensing of biomarkers in human breath, or remote sensing of gases relevant for resources exploitation or farming are important areas, in which frequency comb systems might find large applications in the future. However, so far, frequency comb systems are mainly used in basic research, despite their large potential for commercial applications. New technology solutions are required to enlarge the application range of this technology and make it accessible for real-world systems.
An important highlight in my ERC StG Mega-XUV project was the first demonstration of a stabilized optical frequency comb from a SESAM-modelocked femtosecond thin disk laser. In this context, we invented a new method for stabilization of optical frequency combs. Our new invention is to use opto-optical modulation of a semiconductor saturable absorber that is placed inside the femtosecond laser cavity. It has several technical advantages compared to the standard method, therefore we submitted a patent application for it. The Written Opinion of the International Searching Authority confirmed its novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability in August 2015. We expect that our IP will enable European industry to continue to be leading this field, because it has several advantages compared to other CEO stabilization technologies, in particular with respect to modulation speed, low nonlinearity and dispersion, and extremely high damage thresholds.
With this PoC proposal, we target both the realization of technical demonstrators to bring our invention closer to the market as well as the development of an optimum commercialization strategy.
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