Interferometric gravitational wave detectors with an unequal and time-varying arm length configuration like the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna rely on time-delay interferometry (TDI) for laser frequency noise subtraction. However, the TDI algorithm requires a laser ranging scheme with meter accuracy over a five million kilometer arm length. At the end of each arm only about 100pW of light power will be detected for gravitational wave measurements and only 1% of this power can be used for laser ranging in order to avoid degradation in the phase stability of the science measurements. Here, we present the first experimental demonstration of such a ranging scheme at 1pW power levels using a Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DS/SS) modulation. This type of modulation also enables optical communication by encoding data with ranging signals and provides significant noise reduction against spurious interfering signals for bidirectional ranging. Experimental results show ranging measurements of 42 cm at 3 Hz and the viability of highly reliable data transfer at several kilobits per second.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics