Building A Radio Frequency Acousto-optic Modulator Driver
Our lab is building experiments to study the dynamics of quantum systems through the use of ultracold, optically trapped atoms. In these experiments, laser beams serve to cool our atoms to microkelvin temperatures and spatially trap them in a lattice configuration. The atoms are very sensitive to these procedures; therefore, we use an acousto-optic modulator (AOM) to quickly and precisely control the frequency, intensity, and direction of multiple laser beams. In order for an AOM to manipulate these three properties of an incident beam, the AOM must receive a radio frequency (RF) electrical signal input; the specific frequency and power level of the RF signal input affects how the AOM manipulates the beam. An AOM driver is a piece of electrical equipment that is used to generate this RF
signal because it contains an interface that allows the frequency and power level of the signal to be adjusted. AOM drivers are an existing technology and are already sold on the market, but they are generally expensive and are not easily customized. Since our experiments call for multiple AOMs, each of which requiring a dedicated driver, our lab deemed it necessary to develop our own AOM driver architecture. With this architecture, we can build our own AOM drivers and tailor each one for a specific purpose, as dictated by the experiment. We attempt to develop this architecture by creating a space- and cost-efficient driver design, constructing and characterizing them, and building a framework for future driver construction.