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13th Day of Christmas: Optical Reference Cavity

This Advent during the 24 days leading up to Christmas I thought it would be fun to have a quick introduction of scientific apparatus, in particular tools used in atomic physics research. This is a way to say thanks to their hard work for our research, and a look at how many things are really needed to make a laboratory work!

Optical Reference Cavity

Optical reference cavities are used to stabilize the wavelength of lasers. In their simplest form, they consist of two mirrors separated by a specific distance from each other. The light enters through the back of one of the mirrors, and start to bounce back and forth between them. The separation distance matters, as this bouncing back and forth can only work if the distance is an integer multiple of the light’s half-wavelength. Depending on the setup, the light then exits either on the front or back.

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