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.
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.
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- Article No. 1060
- Optical Society of America
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- National Science Foundation
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