Diode laser electronics for atom optics
Please note: the electronics designed described here are very
primitive and the performance very ordinary. We now purchase
diode laser controllers from www.moglabs.com.
Diode laser (mechanical
aspects) for information on the mechanical design of external cavity diode
if you are
interested in our older designs (which are fraught with mistakes).
stuff from the atom optics group.
This page documents some of our very old laser electronics designs. We
do not recommend using these designs, except perhaps for educational
As of Feb 2005, quite a bit of superseded stuff has been removed so as
not to waste anyone's time on really bad electronics. If you want to know
more about things that are missing, feel free to contact us.
We are particularly grateful to Alex Slavec for his outstanding design
and development of a sophisticated, robust, very low noise
high-performance laser controller, codenamed Augustus. Alex's design
is now commercially available: see www.moglabs.com
A very large fraction of our original electronics development was
done by Phil Fox.
R.W. Fox, C.W. Oates, and L. Hollberg,
Stabilizing Diode Lasers to High Finesse Cavities, in "Experimental
Methods in the Physical Sciences; Cavity-Enhanced Spectroscopies,
Ch. 1, Vol 40, 46 p., (2001).
Frequency Measurements Group, NIST, Boulder; Leo Hollberg and
The mechanicals of our laser diode design is based on the Sussex design
of Arnold et al.
A.S.Arnold, J.S.Wilson and
M.G.Boshier:"A simple extended-cavity diode laser", Rev.Sci.Instrum.
69 1236 (1998).
The low-noise current source described below was originally designed by
Jan Hall and Ken
Libbrecht at JILA:
J.L.Hall: "A low-noise high-speed diode laser current controller", Rev.
Sci. Instrum. 64 2133–2135 (1993).
The circuit and PCB layout we use is a slightly modified version of
the much-enhanced design from Ken Baldwin and Maarten Hoogerland at the
Australian National University, Canberra, ACT. Here's their web
- Our old temperature controller is a modified version of a design that
originates from Bill
Drury at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. He
based it on a paper by:
and H.F.Gleeson: "A computer interfaced high-stability temperature controller
and heating stage for optical microscopy" Meas.Sci.Technol. 5
- The lock-in amplifier and AOM drivers are similar to designs that
we originally found on the
extremely useful electronics web pages of Steve Gensemer (Phil Gould's
group). The circuits there were apparently based on designs from Kurt
Gibble, although it's not clear where they really started.
The phase shifter is similar to one based on bipolar transistors in
Horowitz and Hill, but using FETs, e.g. as shown on page 9 of National
Semiconductor's Application Note AN-32. Some description of
the lock-in can be found in the following paper:
D Milic, W Lu, MD Hoogerland, M
Blackshell, KGH Baldwin and SJ Buckman: "Improved spectral properties
of diode lasers", Rev. Sci. Istrum. 68 3657–3659
(1997). Note that there are some errors in this paper,
including a battery connected in reverse, improper biasing of the
input FET, and converting the lockin reference from a sine wave to a
Many others have made contributions, including:
Our papers of relevance
Other papers of interest
C.E. Wieman and
L. Hollberg: "Using laser diodes for atomic physics", Rev.Sci.Instrum.
62 1 (1991).
J. Chen and R.G. Hulet: "Instrumentation for the stable operation of
laser diodes", Rev.Sci.Instrum. 61 2097 (1990).
Gray, Dan Shaddock, Charles Harb and Hans Bachor: Photodetector
designs for low-noise, broadband and high-power applications",
Rev.Sci.Instrum. 69 3755 (1998).
We have experimented with a DC locking technique described in:
S.E. Park, H.S. Lee, T.Y. Kwon and H. Cho: "Dispersion-like signals in velocity-selective saturated-absorption spectroscopy", Opt. Commun. 192 p49–55 (2001).
We were not as successful as the authors.
Circuit board details
Precision current source
The piezo driver described here is expensive and complicated and not
recommended. Find someone that knows how to use FETs.
Note that the temperature controller described here is a ridiculously
complicated circuit for something that can be done with a single opamp
(pluse a high-current output stage such as that included here, using an
I have provided considerable discussion of Zeeman coil design in
appendix B of the MOGlabs MOG controller manual.
RF drivers for AOMs
We have PDF datasheets
most of the components we use. These can also be obtained directly
from the manufacturers if you can't find the one you need in this directory.
Items which have been removed:
- Laser driver interface
Laser protection board
frequency locking system
Created: 10 March, 1999
Authorised and maintained by: A/Prof. R. Scholten, School of Physics