laser frequency comb

06/14/2012 - 16:07

Like many new measurement tools, the laser frequency comb seemed at first a curiosity but has found more practical uses than originally imagined. The technique for making extraordinarily precise measurements of frequency has now moved beyond physics and optics to advance biomedicine by helping researchers evaluate a novel instrument that kills harmful bacteria without the use of liquid chemicals or high temperatures.

10/25/2011 - 22:52

Laser frequency combs—extraordinarily precise tools for measuring frequencies (or colors) of light—have helped propel advances in timekeeping, trace gas detection and related physics research to new heights in the past decade. While typical lasers operate at only a single or handful of frequencies, laser frequency combs operate simultaneously at many frequencies, approaching a million for some combs. These combs have very fine, evenly spaced "teeth," each a specific frequency, which can be used like hash marks on a ruler to measure the light emitted by lasers, atoms, stars or other objects. But frequency combs are usually bulky, delicate lab instruments—about the size of a typical suitcase—and challenging to operate, which limits their use.