New Concepts for Operating Ring Laser Gyroscopes
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
A ring laser gyroscope (gyro) is an active laser interferometer designed to sense rotation through the Sagnac frequency shift encountered by two beams travelling in opposite directions around a closed path. The classes of devices considered in this thesis are the large and ultra-large ring laser gyros. These instruments are designed for direct measurement of earth rotation rate and find applications in geodesy, geophysics, and tests of physical theories.
The research presented in this thesis focuses on the demonstration of new techniques for operating ring laser gyros. The main goal of these techniques has been the correction for variations in the geometry of an ultra-large ring laser gyro, UG-3. This instrument is a 77 m perimeter ultra-large ring laser gyro of heterolithic construction and is the primary instrument used in the experiments presented here.
UG-3 has been used to demonstrate measurement of earth strains which have been used to correct for changes in the geometry of the instrument. It has also been used to demonstrate a control technique where the co-rotating beams were alternately offset allowing the number of wavelengths around the perimeter to be counted and a Sagnac rotation signal to be obtained.
Among the most important outcomes of this research of interest to the large ring laser gyro community is that we now understand most of the problems that would affect a next generation ring laser gyro. This understanding allows us to choose an operational technique best suited to the measurements being made and thus maximise the scientific potential of the instrument. Additionally, the development of a new standard for data storage and an associated suite of software to acquire, query and analyse ring laser data is expected to improve collaboration with the wider research community.
Other research outcomes of more general interest include the analysis of how oscillation of a single mode is established in a high finesse laser cavity. We demonstrate that the ultimate mode of operation can be selected with a ‘seed’ beam of exceptionally low intensity. An interesting related outcome is the demonstration of Sagnac beat frequency measurement during the ring down of a ring cavity, a type of measurement immune to dispersive and flow related frequency shifts.