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Optics Express

  • Editor: Michael Duncan
  • Vol. 13, Iss. 8 — Apr. 18, 2005
  • pp: 3117–3122
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Polarization control in a He-Ne laser using birefringence feedback

Ligang Fei, Shulian Zhang, Yan Li, and Jun Zhu  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 13, Issue 8, pp. 3117-3122 (2005)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OPEX.13.003117


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Abstract

The polarization dynamics of laser subjected to weak optical feedback from birefringence external cavity are studied theoretically and experimentally. It is found that polarization flipping with hysteresis is induced by birefringence feedback, and the intensities of two eigenstates are both modulated by external cavity length. The variations of hysteresis loop and duty ratios of two eigenstates in one period of intensity modulation with phase differences of birefringence element in external cavity are observed. When the phase difference is π/2, the two eigenstates will equally alternatively oscillate, and the width of hysteresis loop is the smallest.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

Single-mode He-Ne laser usually emits linearly polarized light, but its polarization may abruptly flip between two eigenstates [1

1. J. Kannelaud and W. Culshaw, “Coherence effects in gaseous laser with axial magnetic field. II. Experimental,” Phys. Rev. 141, 237–245 (1966). [CrossRef]

]. Floch and co-workers [2

2. A. L. Floch, G. Ropars, J. M. Lenornamd, and R. L. Naour, “Dynamics of laser eigenstates,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 52, 918–921 (1984). [CrossRef]

,3

3. G. Ropars, A. L. Floch, and R. L. Naour, “Polarization control mechanisms in vectorial bistable lasers for one-frequency systems,” Phys. Rev. A 46, 623–640 (1992). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

] observed the polarization flipping and hysteresis effect by changing the anisotropy values of laser intracavity. Stephan and co-workers [4

4. G. Stephan and D. Hugon, “Light polarization of a quasi-isotropic laser with optical,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 55, 703–706 (1985). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,5

5. W. Xiong, P. Glanzning, P. Paddon, A. D. May, M. Bourouis, S. Laniepce, and G. Stephan, “Stability of polarized modes in a quasi-isotropic laser,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8, 1236–1243 (1991). [CrossRef]

] experimentally and theoretically studied the polarization switching induced by optical feedback from a polarizer external cavity. Although the polarization flipping and hysteresis effect were observed, they could not modify the size of hysteresis loop, and only one polarization intensity can be modulated. Recently, the polarization switching induced by optical feedback has attracted considerable interest [6

6. K. Panajotov, M. Arizaleta, M. Camarena, H. Thienpont, H. J. Unold, J. M. Ostermann, and R. Michalzik, “Polarization switching induced by phase change in extremely short external cavity vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 84, 2763–2765 (2004). [CrossRef]

9

9. J. Houlihan, L. Lewis, and G. Huyet, “Feedback induced polarization switching in vertical cavity surface emitting lasers,” Opt. Comm. 232, 391–397 (2004). [CrossRef]

]. However, to the best of our knowledge, the polarization control by changing the anisotropic values of external feedback cavity has not been investigated.

In this letter, we demonstrate the influence of the optical feedback from birefringence external cavity on the laser polarization states and output intensity. When the length of external cavity is changed, the polarization flipping with hysteresis between two eigenstates will occur, and the intensities of the two eigenstates are both modulated. The width of hysteresis loop decreases when the phase difference of birefringence element in external cavity increases, and the duty ratios of the two eigenstates in one period of laser intensity modulation also vary with the phase difference. When the phase difference is π/2, the width of hysteresis loop is the smallest, and the duty ratios are equal. In this case, the two eigenstates will equally alternatively oscillate, and the square wave oscillation can be observed. Each polarization switching corresponds to λ/4 change of the external cavity length.

2. Experimental setup

Experiments are carried out on a single mode, linearly polarized He-Ne laser with natural anisotropy. The wavelength λ is 632.8nm. The experimental setup is shown in Fig. 1. The ration of gaseous pressure in laser is He:Ne=7:1 and Ne20:Ne22=1:1.

Fig. 1. Experimental setup and coordinates system. M1, M2, ME: mirrors; G: stress birefringence element; F: force on G; PZT: piezoelectric transducer; W: glass window anti-reflective coated; BS: beam splitter; D1, D2: photo detectors; P: polarizer; OS: oscilloscope.

M1 and M2 are laser mirrors with reflectivities of R1=99.8% and R2=98.8%, respectively, and the distance L between them is 150mm. ME is external mirror with reflectivity of R3=10%, used to reflect laser beams back into the laser. ME, together with M2 and G can form a birefringence external cavity. The length of external cavity l is 100mm. D1 is used to detect the laser intensity. D2 is used to detect the variations of laser polarization state. Due to the stress birefringence effect, when a force is applied on G, the two optical axes of G are parallel to the two principal stress directions, and the force-induced birefringence phase difference is proportional to the magnitude of force. According to the coordinates system shown in Fig. 1, the two optical axes of G are along y-axis and x-axis, respectively.

3. Experimental results

In our experiments, the initial polarization direction of laser is parallel to y-axis. The force-induced birefringence phase difference δ can be given by δ=8λF/πDf 0, where D is the diameter of G, f0 is the fringe value of the optical materials, and F is the force applied on G. Therefore, the different phase differences between the two principal optical axes of G can be obtained by changing the magnitudes of force. When the length of external cavity is scanned by PZT, the intensity modulation curves can be obtained, and different phase differences of G correspond to different intensity modulation curves as shown in Fig. 2.

In Figs. 2(a)2(d), the solid lines are the intensity modulation curves that PZT voltage is increased, i.e., ME moves toward the laser and the length of external cavity is decreased. The dash lines represent the intensity modulation curves that PZT voltage is decreased, i.e., ME moves away from the laser, and the length of external cavity is increased.

Fig. 2. Waveforms of laser intensity modulation and polarization flipping with hysteresis corresponding to the birefringence element phase differences of (a) δ=π/6, (b) δ=5π/18, (c) δ=7π/18, (d) δ=π/2. Upper traces: without a polarizer, lower traces: with a polarizer.

From the Fig. 2, we can find that there are dips on the intensity modulation curves, which is different from the conventional optical feedback intensity curve whose profile is similar to sine wave. If observe the laser output through a polarizer, we can find that the polarization of laser hops at the dip points, and the intensities of two eigenstates are both modulated by the length of external cavity. When PZT voltage is increased, the position of polarization flipping from y-polarization (Py) to x-polarization (Px) is at point D. If PZT voltage is decreased, the position of polarization flipping from Px to Py is at point C. From Figs. 2(a)2(d), we can find, if the phase difference of G is changed, the position of polarization flipping is also different. This indicates that the duty ratios of the two eigenstates in a period of intensity modulation curve vary with the phase difference. The relationship between the duty ratios of the two eigenstates and the phase difference are shown in Fig. 3(a). Meanwhile, for a certain phase difference of G, when the moving direction of feedback mirror (ME) is different, the polarization flipping points C and D are not superposition. This indicates the hysteresis effect of polarization flipping. When the phase difference is changed, the width of hysteresis loop is also changed. Using this result, we can control the polarization switching outside the laser. As known, the length variation of external cavity is proportional to the voltage applied on PZT, so the voltage increments on PZT can be used to represent the width of hysteresis loop shown by the space between point C and D. The relationship curve of the hysteresis loop width and the phase difference is shown in Fig. 3(b). When δ=π/2, the width of hysteresis loop is the smallest.

When δ=π/2, the curve of intensity modulation is similar to the full wave rectification of sine wave, as shown in Fig. 2(d). Observing the output intensity through a polarizer, we can find that the duty ratios are nearly equal and the profile of intensity curve is similar to a square wave due to the existence of the laser initial intensity. Because λ/2 change of the external cavity length corresponds to one period of intensity modulation, in this case, each polarization switching will correspond to λ/4 change of the external cavity length.

Fig. 3. Measurement curves. (a) Duty ratios of two eigenstates versus the phase difference. (b) The width of hysteresis loop versus the phase difference.

4. Theoretical analyses

The eigenstates polarizations depend on the active medium, on a linear phase anisotropy and on a loss anisotropy. For smaller phase anisotropy of intracavity, the polarization flipping conforms to the rotation mechanism [2

2. A. L. Floch, G. Ropars, J. M. Lenornamd, and R. L. Naour, “Dynamics of laser eigenstates,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 52, 918–921 (1984). [CrossRef]

]. Let initial polarization direction of laser be parallel to y-axis. When the following inequality is satisfied [3

3. G. Ropars, A. L. Floch, and R. L. Naour, “Polarization control mechanisms in vectorial bistable lasers for one-frequency systems,” Phys. Rev. A 46, 623–640 (1992). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], the polarization flipping from Py to Px will occur

[12ρβΔΦxy]+[cL14αθ+βθβΔΦ2xy][12(tytx1)]>0,
(1)

where α is laser net gain, β and θ are self and cross saturation coefficient, ρ is self pushing coefficient, ΔΦxy is the phase anisotropy in internal cavity, tx and ty represent the transmission coefficients of Px and Py respectively. The first term of Eq. (1) represents the effect of the active medium, the second term represents the effect of the phase anisotropy of intracavity and the third term represents the effect of the loss anisotropy.

In the presence of optical feedback, due to R 3R 2, according to the model [10

10. T. H. Peek, P. T. Bolwijn, and T. J. Alkemade, “Axial mode number of gas lasers from moving-mirror experiments,” Am. J. Phys. 35, 820–831 (1967). [CrossRef]

] of equivalent cavity of Fabry-Perot interferometer, when the length of external cavity changes, the equivalent mirror reflectivities along y-axis and x-axis can be given by

Ryy=R2+2(R2R3)12(1R2)cosφf
Ryx=R2,
(2)

where φf=4πl/λ represents the phase of external cavity. Due to Ry-yRy-x, the two eigenstates of one laser mode will subject to different losses. Substitute Eq. (2) into Eq. (1), we can get the condition of polarization flipping from Py to Px

κcosφf<ρβΔΦxy+c2αLθ+βθβΔΦ2xy,
(3)

where κ=(R 3/R 2)1/2(1-R 2). Because the frequency shift caused by optical feedback and the intracavity anisotropy are very small [11

11. J. Brannon, “Laser feedback: its effect on laser frequency,” Appl. Opt. 15, 1119–1120 (1976). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], if we neglect saturation effects, Eqs. (2) and (3) show that the azimuth of polarization will be along the larger reflectivity axis, and the right term in Eq. (3) can be assumed as zero. In this case, the light will be polarized along y-axis (cosφ>0) or x-axis (cosφf<0). When polarization direction of laser is along y-axis, the intensity variation can be obtained by ΔIy=ηcosφf [8

8. L. G. Fei, S. L. Zhang, and X. J. Wan, “Influence of optical feedback from birefringence external cavity on intensity tuning and polarization of laser,” Chin. Phys. Lett. 21, 1944–1947 (2004). [CrossRef]

], where η represents optical feedback factor. Similarly, when the polarization direction of laser is parallel to x-axis, the equivalent mirror reflectivities along x-axis and y-axis are given by

Rxx=R2+2(R2R3)12(1R2)cos(φf2δ)
Rxy=R2,
(4)

where δ is the phase difference between two principal optical axes of G. The Px to Py flip condition is similar to Eq. (1), and only the signs of the first and third terms are changed. The condition of polarization flipping from Px to Py can be written as

κcos(φf2δ)<ρβΔΦxyc2αLθ+βθβΔΦ2xy.
(5)

The light will be polarized along x-axis (cos(φf-2δ)>0) or y-axis (cos(φf-2δ)<0). If polarization direction of laser is along x-axis, the intensity variation is ΔIx=ηcos(φf-2δ). When the length of external cavity is changed, the dependence of laser intensity and polarization flipping on δ can be illustrated in Fig. 4. The horizontal dot lines in Fig. 4 represent the right-hand sides of Eqs. (3) and (5), which are nearly equal to zero.

Fig. 4. Illustrations of laser intensity modulation and polarization flipping with hysteresis corresponding to the birefringence element phase differences of (a) δ=π/6, (b) δ=5π/18, (c) δ=7 π/18, (d) δ=π/2. Lower traces: hysteresis loop.

Firstly, we decrease the length of external cavity. Because the initial polarization direction of laser is Py, the intensity variation is ΔIy shown by solid lines in Fig. 4. In Figs. 4(a)4(c), when starts from point A to the right and reaches point D, the condition of polarization flipping from Py to Px is satisfied from Eq. (3). The polarization direction of laser jumps from Py to Px, i.e., from point D to point E, and the intensity turns into ΔIx shown by dash lines. At point F, the polarization should jump from Px to Py from Eq. (5). However, due to Rx-x>Ry-y, Py will subject to more losses and be suppressed. The polarization still remains Px. Once reaches point H, due to Ry-y>Rx-x, from Eq. (5), the polarization will jump back to Py. The intensity becomes ΔIy again till point I, and then begins another period. The trace of intensity modulation within a period is ADDE¯EFHHI¯ shown in Figs. 4(a)4(c). Then, we increase the length of external cavity. For conveniently, we start from point F to the left. Because the polarization direction of laser at point F is Px, the intensity variation is ΔIx shown by dash lines. In Figs. 4(a)4(c), when reaches point C, from Eq. (5), the polarization will jump from Px to Py, i.e., from point C to point B. At point J, the polarization will jump back to Px. The intensity becomes ΔIx again till point K, and then begins another period. The trace of intensity modulation within a period is FCCBBAJ¯JK. If δ=π/2, Fig. 4(d) shows, the length of external cavity whether is increased or is decreased, the positions of polarization flipping are both at point B. The intensity modulation curve is AB¯BC or CB¯BA, which is full wave rectification of sine wave. From the conditions of polarization flipping Eqs. (3) and (5), the duty ratios of the two eigenstates can be written by Dy=2(π-δ) and Dx=2δ. The normalized curves that the duty ratios vary with δ are shown in Fig. 5(a).

Fig. 5. Theoretical curves. (a) Duty ratios of two eigenstates versus the phase difference. (b) The width of hysteresis loop versus the phase difference.

The stabilities Eqs. (3) and (5) can also be used to explain the hysteresis loop apparent in Fig. 2 and the fact that we have observed a decrease in the size of the loop with increasing δ. The relationship between the width of hysteresis loop and the phase difference of birefringence element can be given by WH=π-2δ. The curve that the width of hysteresis loop varies with δ is shown in Fig. 5(b).

Above analyses show that the intensities of the two eigenstates are both modulated by the length of external cavity, and there is a hysteresis loop between Py→Px and Px→Py. The width of hysteresis loop CD shown by lower traces in Figs. 4(a)4(d) decreases with increasing the phase difference of birefringence element. If δ=π/2, the width of hysteresis loop is the smallest, and nearly equal to zero. Meanwhile, in a period of laser intensity modulation, the duty ratios of two eigenstates also vary with the value of phase difference. The greater phase difference the smaller difference of duty ratios. When δ=π/2, the duty ratios of two eigenstates are equal. The theoretical analyses are in good agreement with the experimental results.

5. Conclusions

We have demonstrated the polarization control outside the laser. By adjusting the phase difference of birefringence element in the external feedback cavity, we can change the width of hysteresis loop and the duty ratios of two eigenstates. When δ=π/2, the duty ratios are equal, and intensity curve is similar to the full wave rectification of sine wave. If we observe the laser intensity through a polarizer, the square wave can be output. In this case, the width of hysteresis loop is the smallest, and each polarization switching corresponds to λ/4 change of the external cavity length. Our results are promising for applications in optical switching, optical bistability, and precision measurements of some physical quantities.

Acknowledgments

The Nature Science Foundation of China supported this work.

References and links

1.

J. Kannelaud and W. Culshaw, “Coherence effects in gaseous laser with axial magnetic field. II. Experimental,” Phys. Rev. 141, 237–245 (1966). [CrossRef]

2.

A. L. Floch, G. Ropars, J. M. Lenornamd, and R. L. Naour, “Dynamics of laser eigenstates,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 52, 918–921 (1984). [CrossRef]

3.

G. Ropars, A. L. Floch, and R. L. Naour, “Polarization control mechanisms in vectorial bistable lasers for one-frequency systems,” Phys. Rev. A 46, 623–640 (1992). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

4.

G. Stephan and D. Hugon, “Light polarization of a quasi-isotropic laser with optical,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 55, 703–706 (1985). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

5.

W. Xiong, P. Glanzning, P. Paddon, A. D. May, M. Bourouis, S. Laniepce, and G. Stephan, “Stability of polarized modes in a quasi-isotropic laser,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8, 1236–1243 (1991). [CrossRef]

6.

K. Panajotov, M. Arizaleta, M. Camarena, H. Thienpont, H. J. Unold, J. M. Ostermann, and R. Michalzik, “Polarization switching induced by phase change in extremely short external cavity vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 84, 2763–2765 (2004). [CrossRef]

7.

M. Sciamanna, K. Panajotov, H. Thienpont, I. Veretennicoff, P. Megret, and M. Blondel, “Optical feedback induces polarization mode hopping in vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers,” Opt. Lett. 28, 1543–1545 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

8.

L. G. Fei, S. L. Zhang, and X. J. Wan, “Influence of optical feedback from birefringence external cavity on intensity tuning and polarization of laser,” Chin. Phys. Lett. 21, 1944–1947 (2004). [CrossRef]

9.

J. Houlihan, L. Lewis, and G. Huyet, “Feedback induced polarization switching in vertical cavity surface emitting lasers,” Opt. Comm. 232, 391–397 (2004). [CrossRef]

10.

T. H. Peek, P. T. Bolwijn, and T. J. Alkemade, “Axial mode number of gas lasers from moving-mirror experiments,” Am. J. Phys. 35, 820–831 (1967). [CrossRef]

11.

J. Brannon, “Laser feedback: its effect on laser frequency,” Appl. Opt. 15, 1119–1120 (1976). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

OCIS Codes
(140.1340) Lasers and laser optics : Atomic gas lasers
(260.1440) Physical optics : Birefringence
(260.3160) Physical optics : Interference

ToC Category:
Research Papers

History
Original Manuscript: March 15, 2005
Revised Manuscript: April 5, 2005
Published: April 18, 2005

Citation
Ligang Fei, Shulian Zhang, Yan Li, and Jun Zhu, "Polarization control in a He-Ne laser using birefringence feedback," Opt. Express 13, 3117-3122 (2005)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-13-8-3117


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References

  1. J. Kannelaud and W. Culshaw, �??Coherence effects in gaseous laser with axial magnetic field. II. Experimental,�?? Phys. Rev. 141, 237-245 (1966). [CrossRef]
  2. A. L. Floch, G. Ropars, J. M. Lenornamd and R. L. Naour, �??Dynamics of laser eigenstates,�?? Phys. Rev. Lett. 52, 918-921 (1984). [CrossRef]
  3. G. Ropars, A. L. Floch and R. L. Naour, �??Polarization control mechanisms in vectorial bistable lasers for one-frequency systems,�?? Phys. Rev. A 46, 623-640 (1992). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. G. Stephan and D. Hugon, �??Light polarization of a quasi-isotropic laser with optical,�?? Phys. Rev. Lett. 55, 703-706 (1985). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. W. Xiong, P. Glanzning, P. Paddon, A. D. May, M. Bourouis, S. Laniepce and G. Stephan, �??Stability of polarized modes in a quasi-isotropic laser,�?? J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 8, 1236-1243 (1991). [CrossRef]
  6. K. Panajotov, M. Arizaleta, M. Camarena, H. Thienpont, H. J. Unold, J. M. Ostermann and R. Michalzik, �??Polarization switching induced by phase change in extremely short external cavity vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers,�?? Appl. Phys. Lett. 84, 2763-2765 (2004). [CrossRef]
  7. M. Sciamanna, K. Panajotov, H. Thienpont, I. Veretennicoff, P. Megret and M. Blondel, �??Optical feedback induces polarization mode hopping in vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers,�?? Opt. Lett. 28, 1543-1545 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. L. G. Fei, S. L. Zhang and X. J. Wan, �??Influence of optical feedback from birefringence external cavity on intensity tuning and polarization of laser,�?? Chin. Phys. Lett. 21, 1944-1947 (2004). [CrossRef]
  9. J. Houlihan, L. Lewis and G. Huyet, �??Feedback induced polarization switching in vertical cavity surface emitting lasers,�?? Opt. Comm. 232, 391-397 (2004). [CrossRef]
  10. T. H. Peek, P. T. Bolwijn and T. J. Alkemade, �??Axial mode number of gas lasers from moving-mirror experiments,�?? Am. J. Phys. 35, 820-831 (1967). [CrossRef]
  11. J. Brannon, �??Laser feedback: its effect on laser frequency,�?? Appl. Opt. 15, 1119-1120 (1976). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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