skip to main content

Title: Nonlinear multimode photonics: nonlinear optics with many degrees of freedom

The overall goal of photonics research is to understand and control light in new and richer ways to facilitate new and richer applications. Many major developments to this end have relied on nonlinear optical techniques, such as lasing, mode-locking, and parametric downconversion, to enable applications based on the interactions of coherent light with matter. These processes often involve nonlinear interactions between photonic and material degrees of freedom spanning multiple spatiotemporal scales. While great progress has been made with relatively simple optimizations, such as maximizing single-mode coherence or peak intensity alone, the ultimate achievement of coherent light engineering is complete, multidimensional control of light–light and light–matter interactions through tailored construction of complex optical fields and systems that exploit all of light’s degrees of freedom. This capability is now within sight, due to advances in telecommunications, computing, algorithms, and modeling. Control of highly multimode optical fields and processes also facilitates quantitative and qualitative advances in optical imaging, sensing, communication, and information processing since these applications directly depend on our ability to detect, encode, and manipulate information in as many optical degrees of freedom as possible. Today, these applications are increasingly being enhanced or enabled by both multimode engineering and nonlinearity. Here, we more » provide a brief overview of multimode nonlinear photonics, focusing primarily on spatiotemporal nonlinear wave propagation and, in particular, on promising future directions and routes to applications. We conclude with an overview of emerging processes and methodologies that will enable complex, coherent nonlinear photonic devices with many degrees of freedom.

« less
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 824
Optical Society of America
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. BACKGROUND Electromagnetic (EM) waves underpin modern society in profound ways. They are used to carry information, enabling broadcast radio and television, mobile telecommunications, and ubiquitous access to data networks through Wi-Fi and form the backbone of our modern broadband internet through optical fibers. In fundamental physics, EM waves serve as an invaluable tool to probe objects from cosmic to atomic scales. For example, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and atomic clocks, which are some of the most precise human-made instruments in the world, rely on EM waves to reach unprecedented accuracies. This has motivated decades of research to develop coherent EM sources over broad spectral ranges with impressive results: Frequencies in the range of tens of gigahertz (radio and microwave regimes) can readily be generated by electronic oscillators. Resonant tunneling diodes enable the generation of millimeter (mm) and terahertz (THz) waves, which span from tens of gigahertz to a few terahertz. At even higher frequencies, up to the petahertz level, which are usually defined as optical frequencies, coherent waves can be generated by solid-state and gas lasers. However, these approaches often suffer from narrow spectral bandwidths, because they usually rely on well-defined energy states of specific materials, which results inmore »a rather limited spectral coverage. To overcome this limitation, nonlinear frequency-mixing strategies have been developed. These approaches shift the complexity from the EM source to nonresonant-based material effects. Particularly in the optical regime, a wealth of materials exist that support effects that are suitable for frequency mixing. Over the past two decades, the idea of manipulating these materials to form guiding structures (waveguides) has provided improvements in efficiency, miniaturization, and production scale and cost and has been widely implemented for diverse applications. ADVANCES Lithium niobate, a crystal that was first grown in 1949, is a particularly attractive photonic material for frequency mixing because of its favorable material properties. Bulk lithium niobate crystals and weakly confining waveguides have been used for decades for accessing different parts of the EM spectrum, from gigahertz to petahertz frequencies. Now, this material is experiencing renewed interest owing to the commercial availability of thin-film lithium niobate (TFLN). This integrated photonic material platform enables tight mode confinement, which results in frequency-mixing efficiency improvements by orders of magnitude while at the same time offering additional degrees of freedom for engineering the optical properties by using approaches such as dispersion engineering. Importantly, the large refractive index contrast of TFLN enables, for the first time, the realization of lithium niobate–based photonic integrated circuits on a wafer scale. OUTLOOK The broad spectral coverage, ultralow power requirements, and flexibilities of lithium niobate photonics in EM wave generation provides a large toolset to explore new device functionalities. Furthermore, the adoption of lithium niobate–integrated photonics in foundries is a promising approach to miniaturize essential bench-top optical systems using wafer scale production. Heterogeneous integration of active materials with lithium niobate has the potential to create integrated photonic circuits with rich functionalities. Applications such as high-speed communications, scalable quantum computing, artificial intelligence and neuromorphic computing, and compact optical clocks for satellites and precision sensing are expected to particularly benefit from these advances and provide a wealth of opportunities for commercial exploration. Also, bulk crystals and weakly confining waveguides in lithium niobate are expected to keep playing a crucial role in the near future because of their advantages in high-power and loss-sensitive quantum optics applications. As such, lithium niobate photonics holds great promise for unlocking the EM spectrum and reshaping information technologies for our society in the future. Lithium niobate spectral coverage. The EM spectral range and processes for generating EM frequencies when using lithium niobate (LN) for frequency mixing. AO, acousto-optic; AOM, acousto-optic modulation; χ (2) , second-order nonlinearity; χ (3) , third-order nonlinearity; EO, electro-optic; EOM, electro-optic modulation; HHG, high-harmonic generation; IR, infrared; OFC, optical frequency comb; OPO, optical paramedic oscillator; OR, optical rectification; SCG, supercontinuum generation; SHG, second-harmonic generation; UV, ultraviolet.« less
  2. Abstract

    Dissipative Kerr soliton (DKS) frequency combs—also known as microcombs—have arguably created a new field in cavity nonlinear photonics, with a strong cross-fertilization between theoretical, experimental, and technological research. Spatiotemporal mode-locking (STML) not only adds new degrees of freedom to ultrafast laser technology, but also provides new insights for implementing analogue computers and heuristic optimizers with photonics. Here, we combine the principles of DKS and STML to demonstrate the STML DKS by developing an unexplored ultrahigh-quality-factor Fabry–Pérot (FP) mesoresonator based on graded index multimode fiber (GRIN-MMF). Complementing the two-step pumping scheme with a cavity stress tuning method, we can selectively excite either the eigenmode DKS or the STML DKS. Furthermore, we demonstrate an ultralow noise microcomb that enhances the photonic flywheel performance in both the fundamental comb linewidth and DKS timing jitter. The demonstrated fundamental comb linewidth of 400 mHz and DKS timing jitter of 500 attosecond (averaging times up to 25 μs) represent improvements of 25× and 2.5×, respectively, from the state-of-the-art. Our results show the potential of GRIN-MMF FP mesoresonators as an ideal testbed for high-dimensional nonlinear cavity dynamics and photonic flywheel with ultrahigh coherence and ultralow timing jitter.

  3. The recent emerging field of synthetic dimension in photonics offers a variety of opportunities for manipulating different internal degrees of freedom of photons such as the spectrum of light. While nonlinear optical effects can be incorporated into these photonic systems with synthetic dimensions, these nonlinear effects typically result in long-range interactions along the frequency axis. Thus, it has been difficult to use the synthetic dimension concept to study a large class of Hamiltonians that involves local interactions. Here we show that a Hamiltonian that is locally interacting along the synthetic dimension can be achieved in a dynamically modulated ring resonator incorporatingχ(3)nonlinearity, provided that the group velocity dispersion of the waveguide forming the ring is specifically designed. As a demonstration we numerically implement a Bose–Hubbard model and explore photon blockade effect in the synthetic frequency space. Our work opens new possibilities for studying fundamental many-body physics in the synthetic space in photonics, with potential applications in optical quantum communication and quantum computation.

  4. Abstract

    The discovery of two-dimensional systems hosting intrinsic magnetic order represents a seminal addition to the rich landscape of van der Waals materials. CrI3is an archetypal example, where the interdependence of structure and magnetism, along with strong light-matter interactions, provides a new platform to explore the optical control of magnetic and vibrational degrees of freedom at the nanoscale. However, the nature of magneto-structural coupling on its intrinsic ultrafast timescale remains a crucial open question. Here, we probe magnetic and vibrational dynamics in bulk CrI3using ultrafast optical spectroscopy, revealing spin-flip scattering-driven demagnetization and strong transient exchange-mediated interactions between lattice vibrations and spin oscillations. The latter yields a coherent spin-coupled phonon mode that is highly sensitive to the driving pulse’s helicity in the magnetically ordered phase. Our results elucidate the nature of ultrafast spin-lattice coupling in CrI3and highlight its potential for applications requiring high-speed control of magnetism at the nanoscale.

  5. We report a design methodology for creating high-performance photonic crystals with arbitrary geometric shapes. This design approach enables the inclusion of subwavelength shapes into the photonic crystal unit cell, synergistically combining metamaterials concepts with on-chip guided-wave photonics. Accordingly, we use the term “ photonic metacrystal ” to describe this class of photonic structures. Photonic metacrystals exploiting three different design freedoms are demonstrated experimentally. With these additional degrees of freedom in the design space, photonic metacrystals enable added control of light-matter interactions and hold the promise of significantly increasing temporal confinement in all-dielectric metamaterials.