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PRESTO: a Photonically Referenced Extremely STable Oscillator



Prime contractor
Organisational Unit
Implementation progress
15 May 2023

Duration: 18 months


Ultra-low noise microwave oscillators are key components of atomic clocks, RADAR and LIDAR systems, sampling devices, and many other advanced signal sources and measurement tools. Conventional photonic microwave generators utilize the high-Q-factors available at optical frequencies and transfer it to the microwave domain by optical frequency division. However, these systems are quite bulky and costly due to their dependence on complex optical stabilization techniques and high-vacuum components. Here, we propose to develop a much simpler Photonically Referenced Extremely STable Oscillator (PRESTO) based on femtosecond lasers, fiber optic delay lines and high sensitivity optical cross correlators demonstrated by Cycle GmbH.

The developed PRESTO will be a compact, fully packaged photonic microwave generator with ultra-low phase noise and integrated timing jitter (target: 1 fs RMS for [100 Hz – 100 MHz]).

At the end of the proposed project, we aim to deliver a 6 height-unit, rack-mountable prototype for testing at ESA facilities featuring a user-friendly control interface. As detailed here, PRESTO already has suitable applications for current ESA infrastructure and has the potential to become a key element for RADAR and LIDAR systems helping the European industry to maintain its leading position in such advanced sensors.

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PRESTO: a Photonically Referenced Extremely STable Oscillator