Development of the reference light source with the world highest quality - successful generation of optical signals with high stability, accuracy, and speed -

The National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and the National Astronomy Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) have successfully developed a photonic millimeter-wave reference source with the world’s highest stability and accuracy. This is part of the ALMA Project that is constructing 66 parabola antennas in Chile (the ALMA Telescope/ALMA). Satisfying the severe ALMA specifications, the developed reference light source will serve as the heart of ALMA to generate highly stable, high-speed signals that cover a very wide frequency band (20 GHZ to 120 GHz). Another vital role of the light source is to make the signal phase precisely coherent so as to realize high spatial resolution to be obtained by integrating data from the ALMA Telescope. NICT and NAOJ are studying how to utilize the light source for precise measurements of high-speed optical devices to support high-capacity communications. This development was presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the IEEE Photonics Society held in Denver, U.S. from November 7 through 11.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of East Asia, Europe, and North America in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. NAOJ is the East Asia partner in ALMA. ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence, is a revolutionary telescope, comprising an array of 66 or more giant 12-meter and 7-meter diameter antennas observing at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. ALMA will start regular scientific observations in 2012.