Modulation-based control and locking of lasers, filters and other photonic components is a ubiquitous function across many applications that span the visible to infrared (IR), including atomic, molecular and optical (AMO), quantum sciences, fiber communications, metrology, and microwave photonics. Today, modulators used to realize these control functions consist of high-power bulk-optic components for tuning, sideband modulation, and phase and frequency shifting, while providing low optical insertion loss and operation from DC to 10s of MHz. In order to reduce the size, weight and cost of these applications and improve their scalability and reliability, modulation control functions need to be implemented in a low loss, wafer-scale CMOS-compatible photonic integration platform. The silicon nitride integration platform has been successful at realizing extremely low waveguide losses across the visible to infrared and components including high performance lasers, filters, resonators, stabilization cavities, and optical frequency combs. Yet, progress towards implementing low loss, low power modulators in the silicon nitride platform, while maintaining wafer-scale process compatibility has been limited. Here we report a significant advance in integration of a piezo-electric (PZT, lead zirconate titanate) actuated micro-ring modulation in a fully-planar, wafer-scale silicon nitride platform, that maintains low optical loss (0.03 dB/cm in a 625 µm resonator) at 1550 nm, with an order of magnitude increase in bandwidth (DC - 15 MHz 3-dB and DC - 25 MHz 6-dB) and order of magnitude lower power consumption of 20 nW improvement over prior PZT modulators. The modulator provides a >14 dB extinction ratio (ER) and 7.1 million quality-factor (Q) over the entire 4 GHz tuning range, a tuning efficiency of 162 MHz/V, and delivers the linearity required for control applications with 65.1 dB·Hz2/3and 73.8 dB·Hz2/3third-order intermodulation distortion (IMD3) spurious free dynamic range (SFDR) at 1 MHz and 10 MHz respectively. We demonstrate two control applications, laser stabilization in a Pound-Drever Hall (PDH) lock loop, reducing laser frequency noise by 40 dB, and as a laser carrier tracking filter. This PZT modulator design can be extended to the visible in the ultra-low loss silicon nitride platform with minor waveguide design changes. This integration of PZT modulation in the ultra-low loss silicon nitride waveguide platform enables modulator control functions in a wide range of visible to IR applications such as atomic and molecular transition locking for cooling, trapping and probing, controllable optical frequency combs, low-power external cavity tunable lasers, quantum computers, sensors and communications, atomic clocks, and tunable ultra-low linewidth lasers and ultra-low phase noise microwave synthesizers.
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- APL Photonics
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- National Science Foundation
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