New Approaches to Gyroscopic Lasers
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis presents a study of two aspects of ring laser gyroscopes: Correction of systematic errors due to optical backscatter, and development of solid-state ring laser gyroscopes.
Backscatter at the optical surfaces of ring laser gyroscopes causes systematic measurement errors. These errors were modelled and corrected for in large ring lasers. The model included backscattering, hole burning and dispersion in the gain medium. The model predictions were used in conjunction with measurements of the intensity modulation of each beam and the phase difference between these modulation to correct the measured Sagnac frequency of the large ring lasers, PR-1 and G-0. Dramatic improvements in the sensitivity of both lasers were achieved.
Most current laser gyroscopes use He-Ne plasma as the gain medium. This makes the devices fragile, the plasma creates UV light that degrades the cavity mirrors and the gas itself degrades over time. As a alternative, solid state materials might be used as the gain medium for the gyroscope. Both neodymium doped and erbium ytterbium co-doped phosphate glass lasers were constructed. Initially linear cavity designs were constructed to test the suitability of the gain media. Both laser systems employed longitudinal laser diode pumping. Thirty six perimeter ring lasers were then developed using both gain media. In both cases successful rotation sensing was achieved on a turntable which provided external rotation. For rotation rates between 0.1 and 0.85 rad/s, the gyroscope built using Er-Yb and Nd phosphate glass are superior to Nd:YAG (the only other material known to have been used in a continuous wave solid state gyroscope). This improvement is due to the use of thin heavily doped gain medium, which decreases the detrimental effect caused by gain gratings.
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