Kerry Vahala - Towards integrated optical gyroscopes

Hybrid Lecture


Counter-propagating lightwaves within a closed rotating loop enable rotation measurement as a result of the Sagnac effect. And modern optical gyroscopes use long coiled optical fiber paths (fiber optic gyroscopes) or resonant recirculation (ring laser gyroscopes) to greatly enhance this effect. In recent years, the possibility of chip-based optical gyroscopes has garnered considerable attention. Such integrated optical gyroscopes could enjoy the advantages of integration and scalable manufacturing, and would offer rugged designs for operation in challenging environments. Compact or chip-based ring laser gyroscopes, passive resonant gyroscopes, and interferometric gyroscopes have been reported. Here we first review some of the enabling technologies of chip-integrated designs, overview recent results, and then focus on a chip-base Brillouin-laser gyroscope that has been used to measure the Earth’s rotation. Key challenges and
prospects for future improvements are also discussed.


Kerry Vahala is the Jenkins Professor and Professor of Applied Physics at Caltech. He is known for his studies of devices called optical microcavities and their application to a wide range of subjects including miniature frequency and time systems, microwave sources, parametric oscillators, astrocombs and gyroscopes. Vahala also made early contributions to the subject of cavity optomechanics and demonstrations of chip-based devices to cavity QED phenomena.

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the IEEE and the OSA. Vahala received an Alexander von Humboldt Award for his work on ultra-high-Q optical microcavities, a NASA achievement award for application of frequency combs to exoplanet detection, the OSA Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award for a 2-photon optical clock, and the IEEE David Sarnoff Award for his research on quantum-well laser dynamics.


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