Evanescent field sensing: optical nanofibres, whispering-gallery-mode microspherical and microbubble resonators

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Watkins, Amy Marie
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University College Cork
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In this thesis, the evanescent field sensing techniques of tapered optical nanofibres and microspherical resonators are investigated. This includes evanescent field spectroscopy of a silica nanofibre in a rubidium vapour; thermo-optical tuning of Er:Yb co-doped phosphate glass microspheres; optomechanical properties of microspherical pendulums; and the fabrication and characterisation of borosilicate microbubble resonators. Doppler-broadened and sub-Doppler absorption spectroscopic techniques are performed around the D2 transition (780.24 nm) of rubidium using the evanescent field produced at the waist of a tapered nanofibre with input probe powers as low as 55 nW. Doppler-broadened Zeeman shifts and a preliminary dichroic atomic vapour laser lock (DAVLL) line shape are also observed via the nanofibre waist with an applied magnetic field of 60 G. This device has the potential for laser frequency stabilisation while also studying the effects of atom-surface interactions. A non-invasive thermo-optical tuning technique of Er:Yb co-doped microspheres to specific arbitrary wavelengths is demonstrated particularly to 1294 nm and the 5S1/2F=3 to 5P3/2Fʹ=4 laser cooling transition of 85Rb. Reversible tuning ranges of up to 474 GHz and on resonance cavity timescales on the order of 100 s are reported. This procedure has prospective applications for sensing a variety of atomic or molecular species in a cavity quantum electrodynamics (QED) experiments. The mechanical characteristics of a silica microsphere pendulum with a relatively low spring constant of 10-4 Nm-1 are explored. A novel method of frequency sweeping the motion of the pendulum to determine its natural resonance frequencies while overriding its sensitivity to environmental noise is proposed. An estimated force of 0.25 N is required to actuate the pendulum by a displacement of (1-2) μm. It is suggested that this is of sufficient magnitude to be experienced between two evanescently coupled microspheres (photonic molecule) and enable spatial trapping of the micropendulum. Finally, single-input borosilicate microbubble resonators with diameters <100 μm are fabricated using a CO2 laser. Optical whispering gallery mode spectra are observed via evanescent coupling with a tapered fibre. A red-shift of (4-22) GHz of the resonance modes is detected when the hollow cavity was filled with nano-filtered water. A polarisation conversion effect, with an efficiency of 10%, is observed when the diameter of the coupling tapered fibre waist is varied. This effect is also achieved by simply varying the polarisation of the input light in the tapered fibre where the efficiency is optimised to 92%. Thus, the microbubble device acts as a reversible band-pass to band-stop optical filter for cavity-QED, integrated solid-state and semiconductor circuit applications.
Optical microresonators , Optical nanofibres , Atom-surface interactions , Evanescent field sensing
Watkins, A. 2013. Evanescent field sensing: optical nanofibres, whispering-gallery-mode microspherical and microbubble resonators. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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