Dynamic modulation of photonic crystal nanocavities using gigahertz acoustic phonons


Photonic crystal membranes provide a versatile planar platform for on-chip implementations of photonic quantum circuits1,2,3. One prominent quantum element is a coupled system consisting of a nanocavity and a single quantum dot4,5,6,7, which forms a fundamental building block for elaborate quantum information networks8,9,10 and a cavity quantum electrodynamic system controlled by single photons3. To date, no fast tuning mechanism is available to achieve control within the system coherence time. Here, we demonstrate dynamic tuning by monochromatic coherent acoustic phonons formed by a surface acoustic wave with frequencies exceeding 1.7 GHz, one order of magnitude faster than alternative approaches5,6,7. We resolve a periodic modulation of the optical mode exceeding eight times its linewidth, preserving both the spatial mode profile and a high quality factor. Because photonic crystal membranes confine photonic and phononic excitations11,12, coupling optical to acoustic frequencies, our technique opens up the way to coherent acoustic control of optomechanical crystals.

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Figure 1: Tuning mechanism setup and experimental results.
Figure 2: Time-integrated emission spectra for three different nanocavities and SAW frequencies.
Figure 3: Numerical simulations.
Figure 4: Comparison of SAW phase-resolved experimental data with 3D-FDTD simulation results.


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This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as part of the cluster of excellence ‘Nanosystems Initiative Munich’ (NIM) and via the Emmy-Noether-Programme (KR 3790/2-1), by the Bavaria-California Technology Center (BaCaTeC), by the National Science Foundation (NSF) via NIRT grant no. 0304678 and Marie Curie EXT-CT-2006-042580. A portion of this work was carried out in the UCSB nanofabrication facility, part of the NSF-funded NNIN network. S.M.T. acknowledges financial support from the US Department of Education GAANN grant. D.A.F. acknowledges support from the Bayerische Forschungsstiftung.

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D.A.F. performed the experiments and 3D-FDTD simulations. D.A.F. and S.M.T. designed, fabricated and characterized the devices. H.K. and P.M.P. fabricated the molecular beam epitaxy material. D.A.F. and H.J.K. performed data analysis and modelling, conceived the 3D-FDTD simulations and wrote the manuscript with contributions from all other authors. H.J.K., D.B., P.M.P. and A.W. inspired and supervised the project.

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Correspondence to Hubert J. Krenner.

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Fuhrmann, D., Thon, S., Kim, H. et al. Dynamic modulation of photonic crystal nanocavities using gigahertz acoustic phonons. Nature Photon 5, 605–609 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2011.208

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