Both Kerr and Raman nonlinearities are radically enhanced by tight optical-mode confinement in nanoscale silicon waveguides1, 2, 3, 4. Counterintuitively, Brillouin nonlinearities—originating from coupling between photons and acoustic phonons—are exceedingly weak in these same nonlinear waveguides5. Strong Brillouin interactions have only recently been realized in a new class of optomechanical structures that control the interaction between guided photons and phonons5, 6, 7. Despite these major advances, appreciable Brillouin-based optical amplification has yet to be observed in silicon. Using a membrane-suspended waveguide, we report large Brillouin amplification in silicon for the first time, reaching levels greater than 5 dB for modest pump powers, and demonstrate a record low (5 mW) threshold for net amplification. This work represents an important step towards the realization of high-performance Brillouin lasers and amplifiers in silicon.
At a glance
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