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Published September 1996 | Published
Journal Article Open

Teaching physics with 670-nm diode lasers—experiments with Fabry–Perot cavities


In a previous paper we described details of the construction of stabilized 670-nm diode lasers for use in undergraduate physics laboratories. We report here a series of experiments that can be performed using the 670-nm diode laser, a homemade scanning Fabry–Perot cavity, a helium–neon laser, a simple photodiode, and a few pieces of electronics hardware. The experiments include: (1) an introduction to the scanning confocal Fabry–Perot cavity, and to its use as an optical spectrum analyzer; (2) laser frequency modulation and observation of FM sidebands using the optical spectrum analyzer; and (3) the Pound–Drever method for servo-locking a Fabry–Perot cavity to a laser. These experiments are relatively easy to set up and perform, yet they demonstrate a number of useful optical principles and experimental techniques.

Additional Information

© 1996 American Association of Physics Teachers. Received 19 February 1996; accepted 9 May 1996. This work was supported in part by the National Science Foundation under the Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement program, and by the California Institute of Technology. We thank Phil Willems for many useful discussions, and for his efforts in the design of several electronics components used in this lab.

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