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All-optical frequency division on-chip using a single laser
preprintposted on 2023-03-08, 17:01 authored by Yun Zhao, Jae K. Jang, Karl J. McNulty, Xingchen Ji, Yoshitomo Okawachi, Michal Lipson, Alexander L. Gaeta
The generation of spectrally pure high-frequency microwave signals is a critical functionality in fundamental and applied sciences, including metrology and communications. The development of optical frequency combs has enabled the powerful technique of optical frequency division (OFD) to produce microwave oscillations of the highest quality. The approaches for OFD demonstrated to date demand multiple lasers with space- and energy-consuming optical stabilization and electronic feedback components, resulting in device footprints incompatible with integration into a compact and robust photonic platform. Here, we demonstrate all-optical OFD on a single photonic chip driven with a single continuous-wave laser. We generate a dual-point frequency reference using the beat frequency of the signal and idler fields from a microresonator-based optical parametric oscillator (OPO), which achieves high phase stability due to the inherently strong signal-idler frequency correlations. We implement OFD by optically injecting the signal and idler fields from the OPO to a Kerr-comb microresonator on the same chip. We show that the two distinct dynamical states of Kerr cavities can be passively synchronized, allowing broadband frequency locking of the comb state, which transfers the stability of the OPO frequencies to the repetition rate of the Kerr comb. A 630-fold phase-noise reduction is observed when the Kerr comb is synchronized to the OPO, which represents the lowest noise generated on the silicon-nitride platform. Our work demonstrates a simple, effective approach for performing OFD and provides a pathway toward chip-scale devices that can generate microwave frequencies comparable to the purest tones produced in metrological laboratories. This technology can significantly boost the further development of data communications and microwave sensing.