ALMA telescope integrates laser system collaboration from NKT Photonics and TeraXion

Birkenrød, Denmark, and Quebec City, QC, Canada--Single-frequency fiber laser manufacturer NKT Photonics A/S and frequency-stabilized laser manfacturer TeraXion developed a 1556 nm laser system for incorporation as a master clock in the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio astronomy telescope.

Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio astronomy telescope
Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio astronomy telescope

Birkenrød, Denmark, and Quebec City, QC, Canada--Single-frequency fiber laser manufacturer NKT Photonics A/S and frequency-stabilized laser manfacturer TeraXion developed a 1556 nm laser system for incorporation as a master clock in the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio astronomy telescope. The ALMA Master Laser, a frequency-stabilized laser built by TeraXion, includes a NKT Koheras Boostik fiber laser.

Located in the Atacama desert of northern Chile, ALMA's objective is to study the cold regions of the universe and capture never-before seen details about the very first stars and galaxies with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution by linking the antennas into an interferometer array. The facility will consist of up to 66 12-meter parabolic antennas that are located at an elevation of 5000 m, with baselines up to 18 km between the antennas. To accurately measure the phase of the sky signal over the array, each antenna must receive a highly stable local oscillator reference signal.

The coherence length of NKT's Koheras Boostik fiber laser, coupled with TeraXion’s expertise in laser frequency stabilization and industrialization of complex optical systems, produced a laser system that can constantly provide a stable laser signal. The system was also built to sustain harsh environmental conditions—such as when earthquakes occur—a test that it successfully passed during the Antofagasta region’s earthquake of June 20, 2011, which ranked 6.5 on the Richter scale.

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