Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting 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.

Strong coupling between distant photonic nanocavities and its dynamic control


The formation of a coupled state among on-chip, photonic nanostructures at arbitrary positions as well as its dynamic control are important in the realization of next-generation photonic circuits with elevated functionality such as stopping/slowing of light and quantum information processing. Here, we demonstrate that strong coupling and its dynamic control can be realized for distant, ultrahigh-Q photonic nanocavities. We use a pair of nanocavities with Q-factors exceeding 400,000, connected indirectly by a waveguide with a modified density of states. Surprisingly, even though the distance between the nanocavities exceeds 100 wavelengths, we clearly observe Rabi oscillation, indicating their strong coupling. This oscillation exchanges photons between the nanocavities with a period of 54 ps while concentrating them in the nanocavities, not in the waveguide. In addition, by dynamically controlling the properties of either nanocavity, this exchange of photons can be stopped on demand, freezing the photon state.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Scheme of coupling between distant photonic nanocavities through a waveguide.
Figure 2: Numerical analysis of the proposed scheme.
Figure 3: SEM image of the fabricated sample.
Figure 4: Experimental demonstration of strong coupling between two distant nanocavities.
Figure 5: Dynamic control of the coupling state between nanocavities.
Figure 6: Experiment with coupled cavities at the single-photon level.


  1. Noda, S., Chutinan, A. & Imada, M. Trapping and emission of photons by a single defect in a photonic bandgap structure. Nature 407, 608–610 (2000).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Akahane, Y., Asano, T., Song, B. S. & Noda, S. High-Q photonic nanocavity in a two-dimensional photonic crystal. Nature 425, 944–947 (2003).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Song, B. S., Noda, S., Asano, T. & Akahane, Y. Ultra-high-Q photonic double-heterostructure nanocavity. Nature Mater. 4, 207–210 (2005).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Kuramochi, E. et al. Ultrahigh-Q photonic crystal nanocavities realized by the local width modulation of a line defect. Appl. Phys. Lett. 88, 041112 (2006).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Tanaka, Y. et al. Dynamic control of the Q factor in a photonic crystal nanocavity. Nature Mater. 6, 862–865 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Yanik, M. F. & Fan, S. Stopping light all optically. Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 83901 (2004).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Xu, Q., Dong, P. & Lipson, M. Breaking the delay-bandwidth limit in a photonic structure. Nature Phys. 3, 406–410 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Yoshie, T. et al. Vacuum Rabi splitting with a single quantum dot in a photonic crystal nanocavity. Nature 432, 200–203 (2004).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Hennessy, K. et al. Quantum nature of a strongly-coupled single quantum dot–cavity system. Nature 445, 896–899 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Fushman, I. et al. Controlled phase shifts with a single quantum dot. Science 9, 769–772 (2008).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Khitrova, G., Gibbs, H. M., Kira, M., Koch, S. W. & Scherer, A. Vacuum Rabi splitting in semiconductors. Nature Phys. 2, 81–90 (2006).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. Noda, S., Fujita, M. & Asano, T. Spontaneous-emission control by photonic crystals and nanocavities. Nature Photon. 1, 449–458 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  13. Xia, F., Sekaric, L. & Vlasov, Y. Ultracompact optical buffers on a silicon chip. Nature Photon. 1, 65–71 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. Krauss, T. Slow light in photonic crystal waveguides. J. Phys. D 40, 2666–2670 (2007).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  15. Baba, T. Slow light in photonic crystals. Nature Photon. 2, 465–473 (2008).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  16. Notomi, M., Kuramochi, E. & Tanabe, T. Large-scale arrays of ultrahigh-Q coupled nanocavities. Nature Photon. 2, 741–747 (2008).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. Eichenfield, M., Camacho, R., Chan, J., Vahala, K. J. & Painter, O. A picogram- and nanometre-scale photonic-crystal optomechanical cavity. Nature 459, 550–555 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  18. Notomi, M., Taniyama, H., Mitsugi, S. & Kuramochi, E. Optomechanical wavelength and energy conversion in high-Q double-layer cavities of photonic crystal slabs. Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 023903 (2006).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  19. Yang, X., Yu, M., Kwong, D.-L. & Wong, C. W. All-optical analog to electromagnetically induced transparency in multiple coupled photonic crystal cavities. Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 173902 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  20. Pan, J. et al. Experimental demonstration of an all-optical analogue to the superradiance effect in an on-chip photonic crystal resonator system. Phys. Rev. B 81, 041101 (2010).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  21. Takahashi, Y. et al. Design and demonstration of high-Q photonic heterostructure nanocavities suitable for integration. Opt. Express 17, 18093–18102 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  22. Lee, H. S. et al. Local tuning of photonic crystal nanocavity modes by laser-assisted oxidation. Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 191109 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  23. Song, B. S., Asano, T., Akahane, Y. & Noda, S. Role of interfaces in heterophotonic crystals for manipulation of photons. Phys. Rev. B 71, 195101 (2005).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  24. Upham, J., Tanaka, Y., Kawamoto, Y., Sato, Y., Nakamura, T., Song, B. S., Asano, T. & Noda, S. Time-resolved catch and release of an optical pulse from a dynamic photonic crystal nanocavity. Opt. Exp. 19, 23377–23385 (2011).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  25. Upham, J., Tanaka, Y., Asano, T. & Noda, S. On-the-fly wavelength conversion of photons by dynamic control of photonic waveguides. Appl. Phys. Exp. 3, 062001 (2010).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

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

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  27. Yamaguchi, M., Asano, T., Sato, S. & Noda, S. Photonic quantum computation with waveguide-linked optical cavities and quantum dots. Preprint at arXiv:1101.3508v1 (2011).

  28. Hagino, H., Takahashi, Y., Tanaka, Y., Asano, T. & Noda S. Effects of fluctuation in air hole radii and positions on optical characteristics in photonic crystal heterostructure nanocavities. Phys. Rev. B 79, 085112 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors thank M. Yamaguchi and Y. Taguchi for fruitful discussions and helpful advice. This work was partly supported by Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, FIRST programme, and the Global Centre of Excellence for Education and Research on Photonics and Electronics Science and Engineering of Kyoto University, Japan. Y.S. acknowledges support from a Research Fellowship of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



S.N. planned and organized the entire project. Y.S. revealed the design conditions necessary to achieve strong coupling between distant nanocavities through a waveguide, based on analyses performed with Y.T. and T.A. The photonic crystal structures were fabricated by Y.S. together with Y.T. Measurements were performed by Y.S. together with J.U. and T.A. All authors discussed the results and wrote the manuscript.

Supplementary information

Supplementary information

Supplementary information (PDF 519 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sato, Y., Tanaka, Y., Upham, J. et al. Strong coupling between distant photonic nanocavities and its dynamic control. Nature Photon 6, 56–61 (2012).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


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