Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Microresonator-based solitons for massively parallel coherent optical communications

Abstract

Solitons are waveforms that preserve their shape while propagating, as a result of a balance of dispersion and nonlinearity1,2. Soliton-based data transmission schemes were investigated in the 1980s and showed promise as a way of overcoming the limitations imposed by dispersion of optical fibres. However, these approaches were later abandoned in favour of wavelength-division multiplexing schemes, which are easier to implement and offer improved scalability to higher data rates. Here we show that solitons could make a comeback in optical communications, not as a competitor but as a key element of massively parallel wavelength-division multiplexing. Instead of encoding data on the soliton pulse train itself, we use continuous-wave tones of the associated frequency comb as carriers for communication. Dissipative Kerr solitons (DKSs)3,4 (solitons that rely on a double balance of parametric gain and cavity loss, as well as dispersion and nonlinearity) are generated as continuously circulating pulses in an integrated silicon nitride microresonator5 via four-photon interactions mediated by the Kerr nonlinearity, leading to low-noise, spectrally smooth, broadband optical frequency combs6. We use two interleaved DKS frequency combs to transmit a data stream of more than 50 terabits per second on 179 individual optical carriers that span the entire telecommunication C and L bands (centred around infrared telecommunication wavelengths of 1.55 micrometres). We also demonstrate coherent detection of a wavelength-division multiplexing data stream by using a pair of DKS frequency combs—one as a multi-wavelength light source at the transmitter and the other as the corresponding local oscillator at the receiver. This approach exploits the scalability of microresonator-based DKS frequency comb sources for massively parallel optical communications at both the transmitter and the receiver. Our results demonstrate the potential of these sources to replace the arrays of continuous-wave lasers that are currently used in high-speed communications. In combination with advanced spatial multiplexing schemes7,8 and highly integrated silicon photonic circuits9, DKS frequency combs could bring chip-scale petabit-per-second transceivers into reach.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Generation of broadband frequency combs using DKSs in high-Q silicon nitride (Si3N4) microresonators.
Figure 2: Data transmission using microresonator dissipative Kerr-soliton combs for massively parallel WDM.
Figure 3: Coherent data transmission using microresonator dissipative Kerr-soliton combs at both the transmitter and the receiver.

References

  1. 1

    Hasegawa, A . & Kodama, Y. Solitons in Optical Communications (Clarendon Press, 1995)

  2. 2

    Mollenauer, L. F., Stolen, R. H. & Gordon, J. P. Experimental observation of picosecond pulse narrowing and solitons in optical fibers. Phys. Rev. Lett. 45, 1095–1098 (1980)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Herr, T. et al. Temporal solitons in optical microresonators. Nat. Photon. 8, 145–152 (2014)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Akhmediev, N. & Ankiewicz, A. Dissipative Solitons: From Optics to Biology and Medicine (Springer, 2008)

  5. 5

    Levy, J. S. et al. CMOS-compatible multiple-wavelength oscillator for on-chip optical interconnects. Nat. Photon. 4, 37–40 (2010)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

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

    ADS  MathSciNet  CAS  PubMed  MATH  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

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

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Puttnam, B. J . et al. 2.15 Pb/s transmission using a 22 core homogeneous singlemode multi-core fiber and wideband optical comb. In European Conference on Optical Communication PDP3.1 (ECOC, 2015)

  9. 9

    Dai, D. & Bowers, J. E. Silicon-based on-chip multiplexing technologies and devices for peta-bit optical interconnects. Nanophotonics 3, 283–311 (2014)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Nakazawa, M., Yamada, E., Kubota, H. & Suzuki, K. 10 Gbit/s soliton data transmission over one million kilometres. Electron. Lett. 27, 1270–1272 (1991)

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11

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

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Hillerkuss, D. et al. Single-laser 32.5 Tbit/s Nyquist WDM transmission. J. Opt. Commun. Netw. 4, 715–723 (2012)

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Temprana, E. et al. Overcoming Kerr-induced capacity limit in optical fiber transmission. Science 348, 1445–1448 (2015)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Weimann, C. et al. Silicon-organic hybrid (SOH) frequency comb sources for terabit/s data transmission. Opt. Express 22, 3629–3637 (2014)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Pfeifle, J. et al. Flexible terabit/s Nyquist-WDM super-channels using a gain-switched comb source. Opt. Express 23, 724–738 (2015)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

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

  17. 17

    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 JTh4C.1 (Optical Society of America, 2016)

  18. 18

    Kemal, J. N. et al. Multi-wavelength coherent transmission using an optical frequency comb as a local oscillator. Opt. Express 24, 25432–25445 (2016)

    ADS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Del’Haye, P. et al. Optical frequency comb generation from a monolithic microresonator. Nature 450, 1214–1217 (2007)

    ADS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Kippenberg, T. J., Holzwarth, R. & Diddams, S. A. Microresonator-based optical frequency combs. Science 332, 555–559 (2011)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Pfeifle, J. et al. Coherent terabit communications with microresonator Kerr frequency combs. Nat. Photon. 8, 375–380 (2014)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Lugiato, L. A. & Lefever, R. Spatial dissipative structures in passive optical systems. Phys. Rev. Lett. 58, 2209–2211 (1987)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Yi, X., Yang, Q.-F., Yang, K. Y., Suh, M.-G. & Vahala, K. Soliton frequency comb at microwave rates in a high-Q silica microresonator. Optica 2, 1078–1085 (2015)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Yu, M. et al. Silicon-chip-based mid-infrared dual-comb spectroscopy. Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.01121 (2016)

  25. 25

    Jost, J. et al. Counting the cycles of light using a self-referenced optical microresonator. Optica 2, 706–711 (2015)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Brasch, V., Lucas, E., Jost, J. D., Geiselmann, M. & Kippenberg, T. J. Self-referenced photonic chip soliton Kerr frequency comb. Light Sci. Appl. 6, e16202 (2017)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Liang, W. et al. High spectral purity Kerr frequency comb radio frequency photonic oscillator. Nat. Commun. 6, 7957 (2015)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Suh, M.-G., Yang, Q.-F., Yang, K. Y., Yi, X. & Vahala, K. J. Microresonator soliton dual-comb spectroscopy. Science 354, 600–603 (2016)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Pfeiffer, M. H. P. et al. Photonic Damascene process for integrated high-Q microresonator based nonlinear photonics. Optica 3, 20–25 (2016)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Guo, H. et al. Universal dynamics and deterministic switching of dissipative Kerr solitons in optical microresonators. Nat. Phys. 13, 94–102 (2017)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    Chang, F., Onohara, K. & Mizuochi, T. Forward error correction for 100 G transport networks. IEEE Commun. Mag. 48, S48–S55 (2010)

    Google Scholar 

  32. 32

    Sano, A . et al. 102.3-Tb/s (224 × 548-Gb/s) C- and extended L-band all-Raman transmission over 240 km using PDM-64QAM single carrier FDM with digital pilot tone. In Optical Fiber Communication Conference PDP5C.3 (Optical Society of America, 2012)

  33. 33

    Kordts, A., Pfeiffer, M., Guo, H., Brasch, V. & Kippenberg, T. J. Higher order mode suppression in high-Q anomalous dispersion SiN microresonators for temporal dissipative Kerr soliton formation. Opt. Lett. 41, 452–455 (2016)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. 34

    Nagarajan, R. et al. InP photonic integrated circuits. IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quant. 16, 1113–1125 (2010)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  35. 35

    Liang, D. & Bowers, J. E. Recent progress in lasers on silicon. Nat. Photon. 4, 511–517 (2010)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  36. 36

    Lindenmann, N. et al. Photonic wire bonding: a novel concept for chip-scale interconnects. Opt. Express 20, 17667–17677 (2012)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. 37

    Lauermann, M. et al. 40 GBd 16QAM Signaling at 160 Gbit/s in a Silicon-Organic Hybrid (SOH) Modulator. J. Lightw. Technol. 33, 1210–1216 (2015)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  38. 38

    Koos, C. et al. Silicon-organic hybrid (SOH) and plasmonic-organic hybrid (POH) integration. J. Lightwave Technol. 34, 256–268 (2016)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. 39

    Selvaraja, S. K. et al. Fabrication of photonic wire and crystal circuits in silicon-on-insulator using 193-nm optical lithography. J. Lightwave Technol. 27, 4076–4083 (2009)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  40. 40

    Xuan, Y. et al. High-Q silicon nitride microresonators exhibiting low-power frequency comb initiation. Optica 3, 1171–1180 (2016)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  41. 41

    Pfeiffer, M. H. P. et al. Coupling ideality of integrated planar high-Q microresonators. Phys. Rev. Appl. 7, 024026 (2017)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  42. 42

    Puttnam, B. J. et al. High-capacity self-homodyne PDM-WDM-SDM transmission in a 19-core fiber. Opt. Express 22, 21185–21191 (2014)

    ADS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. 43

    Pfau, T., Hoffmann, S. & Noe, R. Hardware-efficient coherent digital receiver concept with feedforward carrier recovery for M-QAM constellations. J. Lightwave Technol. 27, 989–999 (2009)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  44. 44

    Joshi, C. et al. Thermally controlled comb generation and soliton modelocking in microresonators. Opt. Lett. 41, 2565–2568 (2016)

    ADS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. 45

    Wang, P.-H. et al. Intracavity characterization of micro-comb generation in the single soliton regime. Opt. Express 24, 10890–10897 (2016)

    ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  46. 46

    Carmon, T., Yang, L. & Vahala, K. Dynamical thermal behavior and thermal self stability of microcavities. Opt. Express 12, 4742–4750 (2004)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  47. 47

    Karpov, M. et al. Raman self-frequency shift of dissipative Kerr solitons in an optical microresonator. Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 103902 (2016)

    ADS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. 48

    Pfeifle, J . et al. Full C and L-band transmission at 20 Tbit/s using cavity-soliton Kerr frequency combs. In Conference on Lasers and Electro-optics JTh5C.8 (Optical Society of America, 2015)

  49. 49

    Marin, P . et al. 50 Tbit/s Massively parallel WDM transmission in C and L band using interleaved cavity-soliton Kerr combs. In Conference on Lasers and Electro-optics STu1G.1 (Optical Society of America, 2016)

  50. 50

    Marin, P . et al. 34.6 Tbit/s WDM transmission using soliton Kerr frequency combs as optical source and local oscillator. In European Conference on Optical Communication PDP3.1 (ECOC, 2016)

  51. 51

    Hillerkuss, D. et al. 26 Tbit s1 line-rate super-channel transmission utilizing all-optical fast Fourier transform processing. Nat. Photon. 5, 364–371 (2011)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  52. 52

    Dar, R . et al. Impact of WDM channel correlations on nonlinear transmission. In European Conference on Optical Communication W.1.D.2 (ECOC, 2016)

  53. 53

    Schmogrow, R. et al. Error vector magnitude as a performance measure for advanced modulation formats. IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 24, 61–63 (2012)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  54. 54

    Winzer, P. J., Gnauck, A. H., Doerr, C. R., Magarini, M. & Buhl, L. L. Spectrally efficient long-haul optical networking using 112-Gb/s polarization-multiplexed 16-QAM. J. Lightwave Technol. 28, 547–556 (2010)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant ‘EnTeraPIC’, number 280145), the EU project BigPipes, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, the Karlsruhe School of Optics and Photonics (KSOP), and the Helmholtz International Research School for Teratronics (HIRST). P.M.-P. is supported by the Erasmus Mundus doctorate programme Europhotonics (grant number 159224-1-2009-1-FR-ERA MUNDUS-EMJD). We acknowledge financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) through the Collaborative Research Center ‘Wave Phenomena: Analysis and Numerics’ (CRC 1173), project B3 ‘Frequency combs’. Si3N4 devices were fabricated and grown in the Center of MicroNanoTechnology (CMi) at EPFL. EPFL acknowledges support by an ESA PhD fellowship (M.K.) and by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Material Command, USAF, number FA9550-15-1-0099. M.K. acknowledges funding support from Marie Curie FP7 ITN FACT. We also acknowledge the Swiss National Science Foundation via precoR, Grant No. 161537. This publication was supported by Contract W911NF-11-1-0202 (QuASAR) from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Defense Sciences Office (DSO).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

P.M.-P., J.N.K. and J.P. built the system for data transmission, supervised by C.K. A.K. and M.H.P.P. designed and fabricated the Si3N4 microresonators, supervised by T.J.K. P.M.-P., M.K. and A.K. characterized and selected the samples. M.K., V.B., A.K. and M.H.P.P. developed the soliton generation technique, supervised by T.J.K. J.P., P. M.-P. and K.V. performed the OSNR characterization of the optical source. P.M.-P., J.P., P.T., S.W., J.N.K., K.V. and R.R. carried out the data transmission experiments, supervised by C.K. M.K. and M.H.A. theoretically investigated the optimization of the power conversion efficiency of DKS sources. The project was initiated and supervised by W.F., T.J.K. and C.K. All authors discussed the data. The manuscript was written by P.M.-P., J.N.K., M.K., T.J.K. and C.K.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Tobias J. Kippenberg or Christian Koos.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

T.J.K. is a co-founder and shareholder of LiGenTec SA, a start-up company that is engaged in making Si3N4 nonlinear photonic chips available via foundry service and is aiming to commercialize frequency channel generators. T.J.K. is a co-inventor of patents owned by Max Planck Society and EPFL in the technical field of the publication.

Additional information

Reviewer Information Nature thanks V. Torres-Company and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

This file contains Supplementary Text and Data, Supplementary Figures 1-10 and Supplementary References. (PDF 1406 kb)

Supplementary Data

This zipped file contains source data for the Supplementary Figures and .mat data for Figure 1b. (ZIP 14143 kb)

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Marin-Palomo, P., Kemal, J., Karpov, M. et al. Microresonator-based solitons for massively parallel coherent optical communications. Nature 546, 274–279 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature22387

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing