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Ultralow-power chip-based soliton microcombs for photonic integration

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posted on 2023-11-30, 05:37 authored by Junqiu Liu, Arslan S. Raja, Maxim Karpov, Bahareh Ghadiani, Martin H. P. Pfeiffer, Nils J. Engelsen, Hairun Guo, Michael Zervas, Tobias J. Kippenberg
The generation of dissipative Kerr solitons in optical microresonators has provided a route to compact frequency combs of high repetition rate, which have already been employed for optical frequency synthesizers, ultrafast ranging, coherent telecommunication and dual-comb spectroscopy. Silicon nitride (Si$_3$N$_4$) microresonators are promising for photonic integrated soliton microcombs. Yet to date, soliton formation in Si$_3$N$_4$ microresonators at electronically detectable repetition rates, typically less than 100 GHz, is hindered by the requirement of external power amplifiers, due to the low quality ($Q$) factors, as well as by thermal effects which necessitate the use of frequency agile lasers to access the soliton state. These requirements complicate future photonic integration, heterogeneous or hybrid, of soliton microcomb devices based on Si$_3$N$_4$ microresonators with other active or passive components. Here, using the photonic Damascene reflow process, we demonstrate ultralow-power single soliton formation in high-Q ($Q_0>15\times10^6$) Si$_3$N$_4$ microresonators with 9.8 mW input power (6.2 mW in the waveguide) for devices of electronically detectable, 99 GHz repetition rate. We show that solitons can be accessed via simple, slow laser piezo tuning, in many resonances in the same sample. These power levels are compatible with current silicon-photonics-based lasers for full photonic integration of soliton microcombs, at repetition rates suitable for applications such as ultrafast ranging and coherent communication. Our results show the technological readiness of Si$_3$N$_4$ optical waveguides for future all-on-chip soliton microcomb devices.

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