Timing accuracy is of the utmost importance for applications in science, technology and consumer applications such as navigation. Here we propose a method for the creation of low-cost timing references with exquisite precision based on mode-frequency differences that are stable against environmental fluctuations, locked using a sensitive mode.
A method is offered which enables the use of standard photonic and electronic systems to create high-precision timing references. The method relies on the stability in the difference between frequencies of certain optical modes against environmental fluctuations, such as changes in temperature. The comparison of the difference frequency with the frequency of a sensitive mode gives an additional error signal which can be used to further stabilize the reference. Such a set of modes exist, for example, in a Fabry-Pérot resonator, under particular selection of the resonator parameters.
It is furthermore possible to engineer such a set of modes in photonic integrated circuits. In this case, the integration of the resonator system with on-chip laser sources and electronics promises the realisation of an extremely compact, high-precision reference with moderate unit price.
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