Optical computing with integrated photonics brings a pivotal paradigm shift to data-intensive computing technologies. However, the scaling of on-chip photonic architectures using spatially distributed schemes faces the challenge imposed by the fundamental limit of integration density. Synthetic dimensions of light offer the opportunity to extend the length of operand vectors within a single photonic component. Here, we show that large-scale, complex-valued matrix-vector multiplications on synthetic frequency lattices can be performed using an ultra-efficient, silicon-based nanophotonic cavity acousto-optic modulator. By harnessing the resonantly enhanced strong electro-optomechanical coupling, we achieve, in a single such modulator, the full-range phase-coherent frequency conversions across the entire synthetic lattice, which constitute a fully connected linear computing layer. Our demonstrations open up the route toward the experimental realizations of frequency-domain integrated optical computing systems simultaneously featuring very large-scale data processing and small device footprints.more » « less
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- Nature Publishing Group
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- Nature Communications
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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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 in 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.more » « less
Manipulating the frequency and bandwidth of nonclassical light is essential for implementing frequency-encoded/multiplexed quantum computation, communication, and networking protocols, and for bridging spectral mismatch among various quantum systems. However, quantum spectral control requires a strong nonlinearity mediated by light, microwave, or acoustics, which is challenging to realize with high efficiency, low noise, and on an integrated chip. Here, we demonstrate both frequency shifting and bandwidth compression of heralded single-photon pulses using an integrated thin-film lithium niobate (TFLN) phase modulator. We achieve record-high electro-optic frequency shearing of telecom single photons over terahertz range (±641 GHz or ±5.2 nm), enabling high visibility quantum interference between frequency-nondegenerate photon pairs. We further operate the modulator as a time lens and demonstrate over eighteen-fold (6.55 nm to 0.35 nm) bandwidth compression of single photons. Our results showcase the viability and promise of on-chip quantum spectral control for scalable photonic quantum information processing.
We propose an on-chip triply resonant electro-optic modulator architecture for RF-to-optical signal conversion and provide a detailed theoretical analysis of the optimal “circuit-level” device geometries and their performance limits. The designs maximize the RF-optical conversion efficiency through simultaneous resonant enhancement of the RF drive signal, a continuous-wave (CW) optical pump, and the generated optical sideband. The optical pump and sideband are resonantly enhanced in respective supermodes of a two-coupled-cavity optical resonator system, while the RF signal can be enhanced in addition by an LC circuit formed by capacitances of the optical resonator active regions and (integrated) matching inductors. We show that such designs can offer 15-50 dB improvement in conversion efficiency over conventional microring modulators. In the proposed configurations, the photon lifetime (resonance linewidth) limits the instantaneous RF bandwidth of the electro-optic response but does not limit its central RF frequency. The latter is set by the coupling strength between the two coupled cavities and is not subject to the photon lifetime constraint inherent to conventional singly resonant microring modulators. This feature enables efficient operation at high RF carrier frequencies without a reduction in efficiency commonly associated with the photon lifetime limit and accounts for 10-30 dB of the total improvement. Two optical configurations of the modulator are proposed: a “basic” configuration with equal Q-factors in both supermodes, most suitable for narrowband RF signals, and a “generalized” configuration with independently tailored supermode Q-factors that supports a wider instantaneous bandwidth. A second significant 5-20 dB gain in modulation efficiency is expected from RF drive signal enhancement by integrated LC resonant matching, leading to the total expected improvement of 15-50 dB. Previously studied triply-resonant modulators, with coupled longitudinal (across the free spectral range (FSR)) modes, have large resonant mode volume for typical RF frequencies, which limits the interaction between the optical and RF fields. In contrast, the proposed modulators support maximally tightly confined resonant modes, with strong coupling between the mode fields, which increases and maintains high device efficiency across a range of RF frequencies. The proposed modulator architecture is compact, efficient, capable of modulation at high RF carrier frequencies and can be applied to any cavity design or modulation mechanism. It is also well suited to moderate Q, including silicon, implementations, and may be enabling for future CMOS RF-electronic-photonic systems on chip.
Electro-optic modulators (EOMs) convert signals from the electrical to the optical domain. They are at the heart of optical communication, microwave signal processing, sensing, and quantum technologies. Next-generation EOMs require high-density integration, low cost, and high performance simultaneously, which are difficult to achieve with established integrated photonics platforms. Thin-film lithium niobate (LN) has recently emerged as a strong contender owing to its high intrinsic electro-optic (EO) efficiency, industry-proven performance, robustness, and, importantly, the rapid development of scalable fabrication techniques. The thin-film LN platform inherits nearly all the material advantages from the legacy bulk LN devices and amplifies them with a smaller footprint, wider bandwidths, and lower power consumption. Since the first adoption of commercial thin-film LN wafers only a few years ago, the overall performance of thin-film LN modulators is already comparable with, if not exceeding, the performance of the best alternatives based on mature platforms such as silicon and indium phosphide, which have benefited from many decades of research and development. In this mini-review, we explain the principles and technical advances that have enabled state-of-the-art LN modulator demonstrations. We discuss several approaches, their advantages and challenges. We also outline the paths to follow if LN modulators are to improve further, and we provide a perspective on what we believe their performance could become in the future. Finally, as the integrated LN modulator is a key subcomponent of more complex photonic functionalities, we look forward to exciting opportunities for larger-scale LN EO circuits beyond single components.
Reconfigurability of photonic integrated circuits (PICs) has become increasingly important due to the growing demands for electronic–photonic systems on a chip driven by emerging applications, including neuromorphic computing, quantum information, and microwave photonics. Success in these fields usually requires highly scalable photonic switching units as essential building blocks. Current photonic switches, however, mainly rely on materials with weak, volatile thermo‐optic or electro‐optic modulation effects, resulting in large footprints and high energy consumption. As a promising alternative, chalcogenide phase‐change materials (PCMs) exhibit strong optical modulation in a static, self‐holding fashion, but the scalability of present PCM‐integrated photonic applications is still limited by the poor optical or electrical actuation approaches. Here, with phase transitions actuated by in situ silicon PIN diode heaters, scalable nonvolatile electrically reconfigurable photonic switches using PCM‐clad silicon waveguides and microring resonators are demonstrated. As a result, intrinsically compact and energy‐efficient switching units operated with low driving voltages, near‐zero additional loss, and reversible switching with high endurance are obtained in a complementary metal‐oxide‐semiconductor (CMOS)‐compatible process. This work can potentially enable very large‐scale CMOS‐integrated programmable electronic–photonic systems such as optical neural networks and general‐purpose integrated photonic processors.