Optical frequency combs play an essential role in modern timekeeping and metrology. To date, however, frequency combs are primarily used in laboratories, owing to their size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) and fragility. To operationalize the technology, Vector Atomic and Harvard University will design an erbium (Er) fiber Comb Using Photonic Integrated Devices. CUPID will combine the robust Er fiber comb architecture with an integrated photonics module for supercontinuum generation and self-referencing.
Space missions are critically dependent on precise timing and synchronization. Coherent ranging and imaging systems such as the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) and the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar Mission (NISAR) are enabled by highly coherent RF and laser oscillators, respectively. Future NASA mission including deep space navigation, space-based gravitational wave detectors, and multi-static radar imaging will require timing precision beyond the capabilities of current hardware.
LiDAR and RADAR applications can benefit from the long coherence time of an optical local oscillator and the ultralow phase noise provided by the frequency comb. In GPS-denied environments, a highly stable clock can extend missions by maintaining synchronization between distributed systems.