We demonstrate a simple optical clockwork mechanism based on the broadened frequency comb of a femtosecond laser and on difference-frequency generation (DFG) in a nonlinear crystal. The DFG comb possesses a vanishing carrier envelope offset frequency that permits the construction of a simple and thus potentially more stable optical clockwork. In addition it offers the possibility of extending the frequency comb into the infrared spectral region. The overall accuracy and stability of the DFG comb relative to the initial frequency comb were measured to be 6.6 × 10<sup>-21</sup> and 10<sup>-18</sup>τ<sup>-1</sup> , respectively, where τ is the averaging time in seconds. Assuming that sum- and difference-frequency generation are independent processes, our measurements suggest a <10<sup>-20</sup> accuracy for them.
© 2004 Optical Society of America
Marcus Zimmermann, Christoph Gohle, Ronald Holzwarth, Thomas Udem, and Theodor W. Hnsch, "Optical clockwork with an offset-free difference-frequency comb: accuracy of sum- and difference-frequency generation," Opt. Lett. 29, 310-312 (2004)