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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 19, 2024
  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
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 6, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Second-order nonlinear optical processes convert light from one wavelength to another and generate quantum entanglement. Creating chip-scale devices to efficiently control these interactions greatly increases the reach of photonics. Existing silicon-based photonic circuits utilize the third-order optical nonlinearity, but an analogous integrated platform for second-order nonlinear optics remains an outstanding challenge. Here we demonstrate efficient frequency doubling and parametric oscillation with a threshold of tens of micro-watts in an integrated thin-film lithium niobate photonic circuit. We achieve degenerate and non-degenerate operation of the parametric oscillator at room temperature and tune its emission over one terahertz by varying the pump frequency by hundreds of megahertz. Finally, we observe cascaded second-order processes that result in parametric oscillation. These resonant second-order nonlinear circuits will form a crucial part of the emerging nonlinear and quantum photonics platforms.

  4. High-gain optical parametric amplification is an important nonlinear process used both as a source of coherent infrared light and as a source of nonclassical light. In this work, we experimentally demonstrate an approach to optical parametric amplification that enables extremely large parametric gains with low energy requirements. In conventional nonlinear media driven by femtosecond pulses, multiple dispersion orders limit the effective interaction length available for parametric amplification. Here, we use the dispersion engineering available in periodically poled thin-film lithium niobate nanowaveguides to eliminate several dispersion orders at once. The result is a quasi-static process; the large peak intensity associated with a short pump pulse can provide gain to signal photons without undergoing pulse distortion or temporal walk-off. We characterize the parametric gain available in these waveguides using optical parametric generation, where vacuum fluctuations are amplified to macroscopic intensities. In the unsaturated regime, we observe parametric gains as large as 71 dB (118 dB/cm) spanning 1700–2700 nm with pump energies of only 4 pJ. When driven with pulse energies><#comment/>10pJ, we observe saturated parametric gains as large as 88 dB (><#comment/>146dB/cm). The devices shown heremore »achieve saturated optical parametric generation with orders of magnitude less pulse energy than previous techniques.

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  5. We discuss wavelength conversion of a selected signal spatial mode, which preserves its quantum state and does not disturb other signal spatial modes. We present the results for a lithium niobate waveguide and a few-mode-fiber.
  6. Glasses are nonequilibrium solids with properties highly dependent on their method of preparation. In vapor-deposited molecular glasses, structural organization could be readily tuned with deposition rate and substrate temperature. Here, we show that the atomic arrangement of strong network-forming GeO 2 glass is modified at medium range (<2 nm) through vapor deposition at elevated temperatures. Raman spectral signatures distinctively show that the population of six-membered GeO 4 rings increases at elevated substrate temperatures. Deposition near the glass transition temperature is more efficient than postgrowth annealing in modifying atomic structure at medium range. The enhanced medium-range organization correlates with reduction of the room temperature internal friction. Identifying the microscopic origin of room temperature internal friction in amorphous oxides is paramount to design the next-generation interference coatings for mirrors of the end test masses of gravitational wave interferometers, in which the room temperature internal friction is a main source of noise limiting their sensitivity.