The use of frequency-shifted feedback (FSF) lasers in optical metrology is based on a unique coherence property: the appearance of beats in the noise spectrum at the output of a two-beam interferometer, whose frequencies vary linearly with the path delay of the interferometer. A description of the output of a FSF laser as a moving comb of optical frequencies is generally admitted to explain these specific coherence properties. Here starting from the model of a passive FSF cavity seeded by spontaneous emission we give a rigorous description of the time-spectrum properties of FSF lasers and show that the moving comb exists only in the limit of small frequency shift. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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