skip to main content

Title: Monolithic Kerr and electro-optic hybrid microcombs

Microresonator-based soliton generation promises chip-scale integration of optical frequency combs for applications spanning from time keeping to frequency synthesis. Access to the soliton repetition rate is a prerequisite for those applications. While miniaturized cavities harness Kerr nonlinearity and enable terahertz soliton repetition rates, such high rates are not amenable to direct electronic detection. Here, we demonstrate hybrid Kerr and electro-optic microcombs using a lithium niobate thin film that exhibits both Kerr and Pockels nonlinearities. By interleaving the high-repetition-rate Kerr soliton comb with the low-repetition-rate electro-optic comb on the same waveguide, wide Kerr soliton mode spacing is divided within a single chip, allowing for direct electronic detection and feedback control of the soliton repetition rate. Our work establishes an integrated approach to electronically access terahertz solitons, paving the way for building chip-scale referenced comb sources.

; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 1060
Optical Society of America
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Soliton microcombs are a promising new approach for photonic-based microwave signal synthesis. To date, however, the tuning rate has been limited in microcombs. Here, we demonstrate the first microwave-rate soliton microcomb whose repetition rate can be tuned at a high speed. By integrating an electro-optic modulation element into a lithium niobate comb microresonator, a modulation bandwidth up to 75 MHz and a continuous frequency modulation rate up to 5.0 × 1014Hz/s are achieved, several orders-of-magnitude faster than existing microcomb technology. The device offers a significant bandwidth of up to tens of gigahertz for locking the repetition rate to an external microwave reference, enabling both direct injection locking and feedback locking to the comb resonator itself without involving external modulation. These features are especially useful for disciplining an optical voltage-controlled oscillator to a long-term reference and the demonstrated fast repetition rate control is expected to have a profound impact on all applications of frequency combs.

  2. 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
  3. Abstract

    Microresonator solitons are critical to miniaturize optical frequency combs to chip scale and have the potential to revolutionize spectroscopy, metrology and timing. With the reduction of resonator diameter, high repetition rates up to 1 THz become possible, and they are advantageous to wavelength multiplexing, coherent sampling, and self-referencing. However, the detection of comb repetition rate, the precursor to all comb-based applications, becomes challenging at these repetition rates due to the limited bandwidth of photodiodes and electronics. Here, we report a dual-comb Vernier frequency division method to vastly reduce the required electrical bandwidth. Free-running 216 GHz “Vernier” solitons sample and divide the main soliton’s repetition frequency from 197 GHz to 995 MHz through electrical processing of a pair of low frequency dual-comb beat notes. Our demonstration relaxes the instrumentation requirement for microcomb repetition rate detection, and could be applied for optical clocks, optical frequency division, and microwave photonics.

  4. Dissipative Kerr soliton generation in chip-scale nonlinear resonators has recently observed remarkable advances, spanning from massively parallel communications, to self-referenced oscillators, and to dual-comb spectroscopy. Often working in the anomalous dispersion regime, unique driving protocols and dispersion in these nonlinear resonators have been examined to achieve the soliton and soliton-like temporal pulse shapes and coherent frequency comb generation. The normal dispersion regime provides a complementary approach to bridge the nonlinear dynamical studies, including the possibility of square pulse formation with flattop plateaus, or platicons. Here we report observations of square pulse formation in chip-scale frequency combs through stimulated pumping at one free spectral range and in silicon nitride rings with+55  fs2/mmnormal group velocity dispersion. Tuning of the platicon frequency comb via a varied sideband modulation frequency is examined in both spectral and temporal measurements. Determined by second-harmonic autocorrelation and cross correlation, we observe bright square platicon pulse of 17 ps pulse width on a 19 GHz flat frequency comb. With auxiliary-laser-assisted thermal stabilization, we surpass the thermal bistable dragging and extend the mode-locking access to narrower 2 ps platicon pulse states, supported by nonlinear dynamical modeling and boundary limit discussions.

  5. Abstract

    The advantages of low cost, compact size, and reduced power consumption makes a photonic chip‐based ultrafast laser source an appealing technology for diverse applications such as all‐optical signal processing, frequency metrology, spectroscopy, and sensing. To date, on‐chip ultrafast sources are typically generated by microresonator‐based Kerr‐comb solitons, which require precise phase tuning and frequency agile lasers to access the soliton state. Here, this work reports the first experimental demonstration of an externally pumped on‐chip ultrafast soliton laser source based on Raman soliton self‐frequency shift. By capitalizing on strong optical nonlinearity and versatile dispersion control in Ge28Sb12Se60chalcogenide glass waveguides, 185 fs duration Raman soliton generation has been demonstrated, possessing continuous wavelength tunability from 1589 to 1807 nm with signal‐to‐noise ratios consistently exceeding 65 dB. The source operates with pump pulse energies as low as 1.08 pJ, representing over three orders of magnitude improvement compared to fiber‐based Raman soliton sources. In addition, the generated solitons exhibit excellent spectral purity and stability free from parasitic sidebands. These experimental results are further validated by theoretical analysis, revealing insights into the soliton dynamics and critical device design guidelines. This work therefore enables a new class of broadly tunable, energy‐efficient, compact, and potentially cost‐effective on‐chip ultrafastmore »laser sources.

    « less