The Internet today transmits hundreds of terabits per second, consumes 9% of all electricity worldwide and grows by 20–30% per year1,2. To support capacity demand, massively parallel communication links are installed, not scaling favourably concerning energy consumption. A single frequency comb source may substitute many parallel lasers and improve system energy-efficiency3,4. We present a frequency comb realized by a non-resonant aluminium-gallium-arsenide-on-insulator (AlGaAsOI) nanowaveguide with 66% pump-to-comb conversion efficiency, which is significantly higher than state-of-the-art resonant comb sources. This enables unprecedented high data-rate transmission for chip-based sources, demonstrated using a single-mode 30-core fibre. We show that our frequency comb can carry 661 Tbit s–1 of data, equivalent to more than the total Internet traffic today. The comb is obtained by seeding the AlGaAsOI chip with 10-GHz picosecond pulses at a low pump power (85 mW), and this scheme is robust to temperature changes, is energy efficient and facilitates future integration with on-chip lasers or amplifiers5,6.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


  1. 1.

    Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2016–2021 (Cisco, September 2017); https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/complete-white-paper-c11-481360.html

  2. 2.

    Andrae, A. Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast (2017); https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320225452

  3. 3.

    Hillerkuss, D. et al. 26 Tbit s-1 line-rate super-channel transmission utilizing all-optical fast Fourier transform processing. Nat. Photon. 5, 364–371 (2011).

  4. 4.

    Ataie, V. et al. Ultrahigh count coherent WDM channels transmission using optical parametric comb-based frequency synthesizer. J. Light. Technol. 33, 694–699 (2015).

  5. 5.

    Uvin, S. et al. Narrow line width frequency comb based on an injection-locked III-V-on-silicon mode-locked laser. Opt. Express 24, 5277–5286 (2016).

  6. 6.

    Akiyama, T. et al. An ultrawide-band semiconductor optical amplifier having an extremely high penalty-free output power of 23 dBm achieved with quantum dots. IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 17, 1614–1616 (2005).

  7. 7.

    Essiambre, R.-J., Kramer, G., Winzer, P. J., Foschini, G. J. & Goebel, B. Capacity limits of optical fiber networks. J. Light. Technol. 28, 662–701 (2010).

  8. 8.

    Morioka, T. New generation optical infrastructure technologies: “EXAT initiative” towards 2020 and beyond. In I4th OptoElectronics and Communications Conference (OECC) FT4 (2009).

  9. 9.

    Richardson, D. J. Filling the light pipe. Science 330, 327–328 (2010).

  10. 10.

    Bozinovic, N. et al. Terabit-scale orbital angular momentum mode division multiplexing in fibers. Science 340, 1545–1548 (2013).

  11. 11.

    Hu, H. et al. Single-source AlGaAs frequency comb transmitter for 661 Tbit/s data transmission in a 30-core fiber. In Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO): 2016 Postdeadline Paper Digest paper JTh4C.1 (2016).

  12. 12.

    Matsuo, S. et al. High-spatial-multiplicity multicore fibers for future dense space-division-multiplexing systems. J. Light. Technol. 34, 1464–1475 (2016).

  13. 13.

    Mizuno, T. et al. Long-haul dense space-division multiplexed transmission over low-crosstalk heterogeneous 32-core transmission line using a partial recirculating loop system. J. Light. Technol. 35, 488–498 (2017).

  14. 14.

    Kobayashi, T. et al. 1-Pb/s (32 SDM/46 WDM/768 Gb/s) C-band dense SDM transmission over 205.6-km of single-mode heterogeneous multi-core fiber using 96-Gbaud PDM-16QAM channels. In Optical Fiber Communication Conference Postdeadline Papers paper Th5B.1 (Optical Society of America, 2017).

  15. 15.

    Puttnam, B. J. et al. 2.15 Pb/s transmission using a 22 core homogeneous single-mode multi-core fiber and wideband optical comb. In 2015 European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC) paper PDP.3.1 (2015).

  16. 16.

    Kemal, J. N. et al. 32QAM WDM transmission using a quantum-dash passively mode-locked laser with resonant feedback. In Optical Fiber Communication Conference Postdeadline Papers (2017) paper Th5C.3 (Optical Society of America, 2017).

  17. 17.

    Marin-Palomo, P. et al. Microresonator-based solitons for massively parallel coherent optical communications. Nature 546, 274–279 (2017).

  18. 18.

    Fülöp, A. et al. High-order coherent communications using mode-locked dark-pulse Kerr combs from microresonators. Nat. Commun. 9, 1598 (2018).

  19. 19.

    Brasch, V. et al. Photonic chip–based optical frequency comb using soliton Cherenkov radiation. Science 351, 357–360 (2016).

  20. 20.

    Huang, S.-W. et al. A broadband chip-scale optical frequency synthesizer at 2.7 × 10−16 relative uncertainty. Sci. Adv. 2, e1501489 (2016).

  21. 21.

    Halir, R. et al. Ultrabroadband supercontinuum generation in a CMOS-compatible platform. Opt. Lett. 37, 1685–1687 (2012).

  22. 22.

    Kuyken, B. et al. An octave-spanning mid-infrared frequency comb generated in a silicon nanophotonic wire waveguide. Nat. Commun. 6, 6310 (2015).

  23. 23.

    Pu, M., Ottaviano, L., Semenova, E. & Yvind, K. Efficient frequency comb generation in AlGaAs-on-insulator. Optica 3, 823–826 (2016).

  24. 24.

    Hu, H. et al. Supercontinuum comb sources for broadband communications based on AlGaAs-on-insulator. In Proc. SPIE 10088, Nonlinear Frequency Generation and Conversion: Materials and Devices XVI 100880C (2017).

  25. 25.

    Ottaviano, L., Pu, M., Semenova, E. & Yvind, K. Low-loss high-confinement waveguides and microring resonators in AlGaAs-on-insulator. Opt. Lett. 41, 3996–3999 (2016).

  26. 26.

    Wathen, J. J. et al. Efficient continuous-wave four-wave mixing in bandgap-engineered AlGaAs waveguides. Opt. Lett. 39, 3161–3164 (2014).

  27. 27.

    Mori, K., Sato, K., Takara, H. & Ohara, T. Supercontinuum lightwave source generating 50 GHz spaced optical ITU grid seamlessly over S-, C- and L-bands. Electron. Lett. 39, 544–546 (2003).

  28. 28.

    Seimetz, M. High-Order Modulation for Optical Fiber Transmission (Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, 2009).

  29. 29.

    Tong, Z. et al. Spectral linewidth preservation in parametric frequency combs seeded by dual pumps. Opt. Express 20, 17610–17619 (2012).

  30. 30.

    Baxter, G. et al. Highly programmable wavelength selective switch based on liquid crystal on silicon switching elements. In 2006 Optical Fiber Communication Conference and the National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference paper OTuF2 (2006).

  31. 31.

    Second Generation Framing Structure, Channel Coding and Modulation Systems for Broadcasting, Interactive Services, News Gathering and other Broadband Satellite Applications (DVB-S2) ETSI EN 302 307 V1.2.1 (Digital Video Broadcasting, 2009).

  32. 32.

    Feng, D. et al. Compact single-chip VMUX/DEMUX on the silicon-on-insulator platform. Opt. Express 19, 6125–6130 (2011).

  33. 33.

    Pathak, S. et al. Optimized silicon AWG with flattened spectral response using an MMI aperture. J. Light. Technol. 31, 87–93 (2013).

  34. 34.

    Dar, R. et al. Impact of WDM channel correlations on nonlinear transmission. In ECOC 2016 42nd European Conference on Optical Communication 482–484 (2016).

Download references


This work was funded by the Silicon Photonics for Optical Communications (SPOC) research center of excellence (DNRF123), the Nanophotonics for Terabit Communications (NATEC) Villum center of excellence and the European Union–Japan coordinated R&D project on “Scalable And Flexible optical Architecture for Reconfigurable Infrastructure (SAFARI)” commissioned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), Japan and the European Commission Horizon 2020. H.H. acknowledges P.-Y. Bony for help with the linewidth measurement.

Author information

Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: Hao Hu, Francesco Da Ros, Minhao Pu.


  1. DTU Fotonik, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark

    • Hao Hu
    • , Francesco Da Ros
    • , Minhao Pu
    • , Feihong Ye
    • , Kasper Ingerslev
    • , Edson Porto da Silva
    • , Md. Nooruzzaman
    • , Luisa Ottaviano
    • , Elizaveta Semenova
    • , Pengyu Guan
    • , Darko Zibar
    • , Michael Galili
    • , Kresten Yvind
    • , Toshio Morioka
    •  & Leif K. Oxenløwe
  2. Advanced Technology Laboratory, Fujikura Ltd., Sakura, Chiba, Japan

    • Yoshimichi Amma
    •  & Yusuke Sasaki
  3. NTT Network Innovation Laboratories, NTT Corporation, Hikarinooka, Yokosuka-shi, Kanagawa, Japan

    • Takayuki Mizuno
    •  & Yutaka Miyamoto


  1. Search for Hao Hu in:

  2. Search for Francesco Da Ros in:

  3. Search for Minhao Pu in:

  4. Search for Feihong Ye in:

  5. Search for Kasper Ingerslev in:

  6. Search for Edson Porto da Silva in:

  7. Search for Md. Nooruzzaman in:

  8. Search for Yoshimichi Amma in:

  9. Search for Yusuke Sasaki in:

  10. Search for Takayuki Mizuno in:

  11. Search for Yutaka Miyamoto in:

  12. Search for Luisa Ottaviano in:

  13. Search for Elizaveta Semenova in:

  14. Search for Pengyu Guan in:

  15. Search for Darko Zibar in:

  16. Search for Michael Galili in:

  17. Search for Kresten Yvind in:

  18. Search for Toshio Morioka in:

  19. Search for Leif K. Oxenløwe in:


H.H. conceived and designed the experiments. F.D.R. and E.P.d.S. conducted digital signal processing for the transmitted data. M.P. designed the AlGaAs device. H.H., F.D.R., F.Y., K.I. and M.N performed the transmission experiment. H.H., F.D.R and M.P. analysed the data. M.P., L.O., E.S. and K.Y. fabricated the AlGaAs device. H.H. and M.P. characterized the AlGaAs device. F.Y., Y.A., Y.S. and T.Mi. designed the multicore fibre. Y.A. and Y.S. fabricated the multicore fibre. T.Mi., Y.M., P.G., D.Z., M.G., L.K.O. and T.Mo. contributed to the experiment. H.H. and L.K.O. wrote the manuscript and all the co-authors contributed to the writing. Y.M., K.Y., T.Mo. and L.K.O. supervised the projects.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hao Hu.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Additional theoretical and experimental results.

About this article

Publication history