Letter | Published:

Broad-band optical parametric gain on a silicon photonic chip

Naturevolume 441pages960963 (2006) | Download Citation



Developing an optical amplifier on silicon is essential for the success of silicon-on-insulator (SOI) photonic integrated circuits. Recently, optical gain with a 1-nm bandwidth was demonstrated using the Raman effect1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, which led to the demonstration of a Raman oscillator10,11, lossless optical modulation12 and optically tunable slow light13. A key strength of optical communications is the parallelism of information transfer and processing onto multiple wavelength channels. However, the relatively narrow Raman gain bandwidth only allows for amplification or generation of a single wavelength channel. If broad gain bandwidths were to be demonstrated on silicon, then an array of wavelength channels could be generated and processed, representing a critical advance for densely integrated photonic circuits. Here we demonstrate net on/off gain over a wavelength range of 28 nm through the optical process of phase-matched four-wave mixing in suitably designed SOI channel waveguides. We also demonstrate wavelength conversion in the range 1,511–1,591 nm with peak conversion efficiencies of +5.2 dB, which represents more than 20 times improvement on previous four-wave-mixing efficiencies in SOI waveguides14,15,16,17. These advances allow for the implementation of dense wavelength division multiplexing in an all-silicon photonic integrated circuit. Additionally, all-optical delays18, all-optical switches19, optical signal regenerators20 and optical sources for quantum information technology21, all demonstrated using four-wave mixing in silica fibres, can now be transferred to the SOI platform.

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We acknowledge discussions with Y. Okawachi. This work was supported by the Center for Nanoscale Systems, supported by the NSF and the New York State Office of Science, Technology & Academic Research. M.A.F., J.E.S. and A.L.G. acknowledge support from the DARPA DSO Slow-Light Program.

Author information


  1. School of Applied and Engineering Physics

    • Mark A. Foster
    • , Jay E. Sharping
    •  & Alexander L. Gaeta
  2. School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, 14853, USA

    • Amy C. Turner
    • , Bradley S. Schmidt
    •  & Michal Lipson


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Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Alexander L. Gaeta.

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