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Surface acoustic wave lasing in a silicon optomechanical cavity
preprintposted on 2023-01-12, 15:15 authored by J. Zhang, P. Nuño-Ruano, X. Le Roux, M. Montesinos-Ballester, D. Marris-Morini, E. Cassan, L. Vivien, N. D. Lanzillotti-Kimura, C. Alonso-Ramos
Integrated optomechanical cavities stand as a promising means to interface mechanical motion and guided optical modes. State-of-the-art demonstrations rely on optical and mechanical modes tightly confined of in micron-scale areas to achieve strong optomechanical coupling. However, the need for tight optomechanical confinement and the general use of suspended devices hinders interaction with external devices, limiting the potential for the implementation of complex circuits. Here, we propose and demonstrate a new approach for optomechanical cavities coupling free-propagating surface acoustic waves (SAWs) and guided optical modes. The cavity is formed by a periodic array of silicon nanopillars with subwavelength separation, implemented in silicon-on-insulator substrate. Optical pumping yields a strong radiation pressure that drives the harmonic vibration of the pillars, periodically deforming the silica under-cladding and exciting the SAW. The propagation of the SAW deforms the cavity period, modulating the resonance wavelength to close the optomechanical coupling loop. Based on this concept, we experimentally demonstrate a phonon laser at room temperature and ambient conditions with optical pump power as low as 1 mW. We also show the possibility to cascade this process, achieving a frequency comb generation with more than 30 harmonic lines. These results open a new path to achieve strong bidirectional coupling between integrated waveguides and SAW, with a great potential for a wide range of applications in quantum and classical domains.