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DARPA Program Delivers Method to Generate Micro-Sized Optical Frequencies

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A program managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) uses miniaturized chip components to generate optical frequencies in small, compressed forms. DARPA said Thursday it launched the Direct On-Chip Digital Optical Synthesizer or DODOS effort in 2014 to propagate the use of optical frequency synthesizers, a technology that generates frequency-precise lasers.

The program aims to reduce the size, power and cost requirements of optical frequency synthesizers so that scientists may use the technology outside of a laboratory setting. Scientists use optical frequency synthesizers for space exploration, light detection and ranging, quantum control and other pursuits.

DODOS employed microresonators that store light to produce small, compact packages of optical frequency combs. The resulting frequency takes a comb-shaped form, hence the name. The University of California at Santa Barbara demonstrated a link between two microchips via a microresonator and a laser.

“The UCSB team’s accomplishment could have broad-reaching implications for a number of commercial and defense photonics applications – from navigation systems to optical clocks to coherent communications,” said Gordon Keeler, DARPA's program manager for DODOS.