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  1. A monochromatic wave that circulates in a nonlinear and dispersive optical cavity can become unstable and form a structured waveform. This phenomenon, known as modulation instability, was encountered in fiber lasers, optically pumped Kerr microresonators and, most recently, in monolithic ring quantum cascade lasers (QCLs). In ring QCLs, the instability led to generation of fundamental frequency combs—optical fields that repeat themselves once per cavity round trip. Here we show that the same instability may also result in self-starting harmonic frequency combs—waveforms that repeat themselves multiple times per round trip, akin to perfect soliton crystals in ring Kerr microresonators. We can tailor the intermode spacing of harmonic frequency combs by placing two minute defects with a well-defined separation between them along the ring waveguide. On-demand excitation of frequency comb states with few powerful modes spaced by hundreds of gigahertz may find their use in future sub-terahertz generators.

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  2. Since the days of Hertz, radio transmitters have evolved from rudimentary circuits emitting around 50 MHz to modern ubiquitous Wi-Fi devices operating at gigahertz radio bands. As wireless data traffic continues to increase, there is a need for new communication technologies capable of high-frequency operation for high-speed data transfer. Here, we give a proof of concept of a compact radio frequency transmitter based on a semiconductor laser frequency comb. In this laser, the beating among the coherent modes oscillating inside the cavity generates a radio frequency current, which couples to the electrodes of the device. We show that redesigning the top contact of the laser allows one to exploit the internal oscillatory current to drive a dipole antenna, which radiates into free space. In addition, direct modulation of the laser current permits encoding a signal in the radiated radio frequency carrier. Working in the opposite direction, the antenna can receive an external radio frequency signal, couple it to the active region, and injection lock the laser. These results pave the way for applications and functionality in optical frequency combs, such as wireless radio communication and wireless synchronization to a reference source.

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