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Integrated, ultra-compact high-Q silicon nitride microresonators for low-repetition-rate soliton microcombs

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posted on 2023-01-12, 13:48 authored by Zhichao Ye, Fuchuan Lei, Krishna Twayana, Marcello Girardi, Peter A. Andrekson, Victor Torres-Company
Multiple applications of relevance in photonics, such as spectrally efficient coherent communications, microwave synthesis or the calibration of astronomical spectrographs, would benefit from soliton microcombs operating at repetition rates <50GHz. However, attaining soliton microcombs with low repetition rates using photonic integration technologies represents a formidable challenge. Expanding the cavity volume results in a drop of intracavity intensity that can only be offset by an encompassing rise in quality factor. In addition, reducing the footprint of the microresonator on a planar integrated circuit requires race-track designs that typically result into extra modal coupling losses and disruptions into the dispersion, preventing the generation of the dissipative single soliton state. Here, we report the generation of sub-50GHz soliton microcombs in dispersion-engineered silicon nitride microresonators. In contrast to other approaches, our devices feature an optimized racetrack design that minimizes the coupling to higher-order modes and reduces the footprint size by an order of magnitude to ~1mm2. The statistical intrinsic Q reaches 19 million, and soliton microcombs at 20.5GHz and 14.0GHz repetition rates are successfully generated. Importantly, the fabrication process is entirely subtractive, meaning that the devices can be directly patterned on the Si3N4 film. This standard approach facilitates integration with further components and devices.

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