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Electrically empowered microcomb laser

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posted on 2023-11-02, 16:00 authored by Jingwei Ling, Zhengdong Gao, Shixin Xue, Qili Hu, Mingxiao Li, Kaibo Zhang, Usman A. Javid, Raymond Lopez-Rios, Jeremy Staffa, Qiang Lin
Optical frequency comb underpins a wide range of applications from communication, metrology, to sensing. Its development on a chip-scale platform -- so called soliton microcomb -- provides a promising path towards system miniaturization and functionality integration via photonic integrated circuit (PIC) technology. Although extensively explored in recent years, challenges remain in key aspects of microcomb such as complex soliton initialization, high threshold, low power efficiency, and limited comb reconfigurability. Here we present an on-chip laser that directly outputs microcomb and resolves all these challenges, with a distinctive mechanism created from synergetic interaction among resonant electro-optic effect, optical Kerr effect, and optical gain inside the laser cavity. Realized with integration between a III-V gain chip and a thin-film lithium niobate (TFLN) PIC, the laser is able to directly emit mode-locked microcomb on demand with robust turnkey operation inherently built in, with individual comb linewidth down to 600 Hz, whole-comb frequency tuning rate exceeding $\rm 2.4\times10^{17}$ Hz/s, and 100% utilization of optical power fully contributing to comb generation. The demonstrated approach unifies architecture and operation simplicity, high-speed reconfigurability, and multifunctional capability enabled by TFLN PIC, opening up a great avenue towards on-demand generation of mode-locked microcomb that is expected to have profound impact on broad applications.

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