4.2 Cancellation of laser phase noise in the unequal-arm interferometer
The use of commutative algebra is very conveniently illustrated with the help of the simpler example of
the unequal-arm interferometer. Here there are only two arms instead of three as we have for LISA, and the
mathematics is much simpler and so it easy to see both physically and mathematically how commutative
algebra can be applied to this problem of laser phase noise cancellation. The procedure is well known for the
unequal-arm interferometer, but here we will describe the same method but in terms of the delay opertors
that we have introduced.
Let denote the laser phase noise entering the laser cavity as shown in Figure 4. Consider this
light making a round trip around arm 1 whose length we take to be . If we interfere this phase
with the incoming light we get the phase , where
The second expression we have written in terms of the delay operators. This makes the procedure
transparent as we shall see. We can do the same for the arm 2 to get another phase , where
Clearly, if , then the difference in phase is not zero and the laser phase noise does
not cancel out. However, if one further delays the phases and and constructs the following
then the laser phase noise does cancel out. We have already encountered this combination at the end of
Section 2. It was first proposed by Tinto and Armstrong in .
The cancellation of laser frequency noise becomes obvious from the operator algebra in the following
way. In the operator notation,
From this one immediately sees that just the commutativity of the operators has been used to cancel the
laser phase noise. The basic idea was to compute the lowest common multiple (L.C.M.) of the polynomials
and (in this case the L.C.M. is just the product, because the polynomials are relatively
prime) and use this fact to construct in which the laser phase noise is cancelled. The operation is
shown physically in Figure 4.
||Schematic diagram of the unequal-arm Michelson interferometer. The beam shown
corresponds to the term in which is first sent around arm 1 followed
by arm 2. The second beam (not shown) is first sent around arm 2 and then through arm 1. The
difference in these two beams constitutes .
The notions of commutativity of polynomials, L.C.M., etc. belong to the field of commutative algebra.
In fact we will be using the notion of a Gröbner basis which is in a sense the generalization of the notion of
the greatest common divisor (gcd). Since LISA has three spacecraft and six inter-spacecraft beams, the
problem of the unequal-arm interferometer only gets technically more complex; in principle the problem is
the same as in this simpler case. Thus the simple operations which were performed here to obtain a laser
noise free combination are not sufficient and more sophisticated methods need to be
adopted from the field of commutative algebra. We address this problem in the forthcoming