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Changing the colour of light in a silicon resonator


As the demand for high bandwidths in microelectronic systems increases, optical interconnect architectures are now being considered that involve schemes commonly used in telecommunications, such as wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) and wavelength conversion1. In such on-chip architectures, the ability to perform wavelength conversion is required. So far wavelength conversion on a silicon chip has only been demonstrated using schemes that are fundamentally all-optical2,3,4,5,6, making their integration on a microelectronic chip challenging. In contrast, we show wavelength conversion obtained by inducing ultrafast electro–optic tuning of a microcavity. It is well known that tuning the parameters of an optical cavity induces filtering of different colours of light7. Here we demonstrate that it can also change the colour of light. This is an effect often observed in other disciplines, for example, in acoustics, where the sound generated by a resonating guitar string can be modified by changing the length of the strings (that is, the resonators)8. Here we show this same tuning effect in optics, enabling compact on-chip electrical wavelength conversion. We demonstrate a change in wavelength of up to 2.5 nm with up to 34% on–off conversion efficiency.

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Figure 1: Wavelength conversion dependence on cavity detuning.
Figure 2: Experimental set-up used to measure the wavelength-conversion process.
Figure 3: Dependence of the measured wavelength change on the absorbed pump energy.
Figure 4: On–off conversion efficiency dependence on wavelength change.
Figure 5: Relative conversion efficiency as a function of the cavity's transition time from its initial to final states.


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The authors acknowledge support by the Center for Nanoscale Systems, supported by the National Science Foundation. We thank Gernot Pomrenke from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) for partially supporting this work. This work was performed in part at the Cornell Nano-Scale Science & Technology Facility (a member of the National Nanofabrication Users Network), which is supported by the National Science Foundation, its users, Cornell University and Industrial Affiliates.

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S.F.P. conceived the idea, performed measurements and drafted the manuscript. Q.X. supported discussion. M.L. contributed to the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Michal Lipson.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Preble, S., Xu, Q. & Lipson, M. Changing the colour of light in a silicon resonator. Nature Photon 1, 293–296 (2007).

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