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Design and Applications of a Decade-Spanning Terahertz Frequency Comb Spectrometer: Doppler-limited Rotational Spectroscopy of Methanol and Methanol-OD


Good, Jacob Thomas (2016) Design and Applications of a Decade-Spanning Terahertz Frequency Comb Spectrometer: Doppler-limited Rotational Spectroscopy of Methanol and Methanol-OD. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9MW2F37.


This thesis details the design and applications of a terahertz (THz) frequency comb spectrometer. The spectrometer employs two offset locked Ti:Sapphire femtosecond oscillators with repetition rates of approximately 80 MHz, offset locked at 100 Hz to continuously sample a time delay of 12.5 ns at a maximum time delay resolution of 15.6 fs. These oscillators emit continuous pulse trains, allowing the generation of a THz pulse train by the master, or pump, oscillator and the sampling of this THz pulse train by the slave, or probe, oscillator via the electro-optic effect. Collecting a train of 16 consecutive THz pulses and taking the Fourier transform of this pulse train produces a decade-spanning frequency comb, from 0.25 to 2.5 THz, with a comb tooth width of 5 MHz and a comb tooth spacing of ~80 MHz. This frequency comb is suitable for Doppler-limited rotational spectroscopy of small molecules. Here, the data from 68 individual scans at slightly different pump oscillator repetition rates were combined, producing an interleaved THz frequency comb spectrum, with a maximum interval between comb teeth of 1.4 MHz, enabling THz frequency comb spectroscopy.

The accuracy of the THz frequency comb spectrometer was tested, achieving a root mean square error of 92 kHz measuring selected absorption center frequencies of water vapor at 10 mTorr, and a root mean square error of 150 kHz in measurements of a K-stack of acetonitrile. This accuracy is sufficient for fitting of measured transitions to a model Hamiltonian to generate a predicted spectrum for molecules of interest in the fields of astronomy and physical chemistry. As such, the rotational spectra of methanol and methanol-OD were acquired by the spectrometer. Absorptions from 1.3 THz to 2.0 THz were compared to JPL catalog data for methanol and the spectrometer achieved an RMS error of 402 kHz, improving to 303 kHz when excluding low signal-to-noise absorptions. This level of accuracy compares favorably with the ~100 kHz accuracy achieved by JPL frequency multiplier submillimeter spectrometers. Additionally, the relative intensity performance of the THz frequency comb spectrometer is linear across the entire decade-spanning bandwidth, making it the preferred instrument for recovering lineshapes and taking absolute intensity measurements in the THz region. The data acquired by the Terahertz Frequency Comb Spectrometer for methanol-OD is of comparable accuracy to the methanol data and may be used to refine the fit parameters for the predicted spectrum of methanol-OD.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:molecular spectroscopy; frequency combs; time-domain spectroscopy; methanol; asynchronous optical sampling
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Chemistry
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Blake, Geoffrey A.
Group:Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Gray, Harry B. (chair)
  • Okumura, Mitchio
  • Heath, James R.
  • Blake, Geoffrey A.
Defense Date:18 March 2016
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05252016-124438217
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Ch 1,2,4,5, and 6 adapted for Ch 5, and 6
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9750
Deposited By: Jacob Good
Deposited On:25 May 2016 23:35
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:16

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