Letter | Published:

Counter-propagating solitons in microresonators

Nature Photonics volume 11, pages 560564 (2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

Solitons occur in many physical systems when a nonlinearity compensates wave dispersion. Their recently demonstrated formation in microresonators has opened a new research direction for nonlinear optical physics1,2,3,4,5. Soliton mode locking also endows frequency microcombs with the enhanced stability necessary for miniaturization of spectroscopy and frequency metrology systems6. These microresonator solitons orbit around a closed waveguide path and produce a repetitive output pulse stream at a rate set by the roundtrip time. Here, counter-propagating solitons that simultaneously orbit in an opposing sense (clockwise/counter-clockwise) are studied. Despite sharing the same spatial mode family, their roundtrip times can be precisely and independently controlled. Furthermore, a state is possible in which both the relative optical phase and relative repetition rates of the distinct soliton streams are locked. This state allows a single resonator to produce dual-soliton frequency-comb streams with different repetition rates, but with a high relative coherence that is useful in both spectroscopy7,8,9 and laser ranging systems10.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

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

  2. 2.

    , , , & Soliton frequency comb at microwave rates in a high-Q silica microresonator. Optica 2, 1078–1085 (2015).

  3. 3.

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

  4. 4.

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

  5. 5.

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

  6. 6.

    , & Microresonator-based optical frequency combs. Science 332, 555–559 (2011).

  7. 7.

    , , , & Microresonator soliton dual-comb spectroscopy. Science 354, 600–603 (2016).

  8. 8.

    et al. On-chip dual comb source for spectroscopy. Preprint at

  9. 9.

    et al. Soliton dual frequency combs in crystalline microresonators. Opt. Lett. 42, 514–517 (2017).

  10. 10.

    , , & Rapid and precise absolute distance measurements at long range. Nat. Photon. 3, 351–356 (2009).

  11. 11.

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

  12. 12.

    et al. Temporal cavity solitons in one-dimensional Kerr media as bits in an all-optical buffer. Nat. Photon. 4, 471–476 (2010).

  13. 13.

    , , , & Solitons and frequency combs in silica microring resonators: interplay of the Raman and higher-order dispersion effects. Phys. Rev. A 92, 033851 (2015).

  14. 14.

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

  15. 15.

    , , & Theory and measurement of the soliton self-frequency shift and efficiency in optical microcavities. Opt. Lett. 41, 3419–3422 (2016).

  16. 16.

    , , & Stokes solitons in optical microcavities. Nat. Phys. 13, 53–57 (2017).

  17. 17.

    , , , & Optical Cherenkov radiation in overmoded microresonators. Opt. Lett. 41, 2907–2910 (2016).

  18. 18.

    , , & Spatial-mode-interaction-induced dispersive-waves and their active tuning in microresonators. Optica 3, 1132–1135 (2016).

  19. 19.

    , , , & Soliton crystals in Kerr resonators. Preprint at (2016).

  20. 20.

    , , , & Self-referenced photonic chip soliton Kerr frequency comb. Light Sci. Appl. 6, e16202 (2017).

  21. 21.

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

  22. 22.

    et al. Single-mode dispersive waves and soliton microcomb dynamics. Nat. Commun. 8, 14869 (2017).

  23. 23.

    , , & Active capture and stabilization of temporal solitons in microresonators. Opt. Lett. 41, 2037–2040 (2016).

  24. 24.

    et al. Chemically etched ultrahigh-Q wedge-resonator on a silicon chip. Nat. Photon. 6, 369–373 (2012).

  25. 25.

    , & Temporal solitons in microresonators driven by optical pulses. Nat. Photon. (in the press).

  26. 26.

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

  27. 27.

    & On timing jitter of mode locked Kerr frequency combs. Opt. Express 21, 28862–28876 (2013).

  28. 28.

    A study of locking phenomena in oscillators. Proc. IEEE 34, 351–357 (1946).

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under the PULSE (grant no. W31P4Q-14-1-0001) and SCOUT (contract no. W911NF-16-1-0548) programmes, NASA and the Kavli Nanoscience Institute.

Author information

Author notes

    • Qi-Fan Yang
    •  & Xu Yi

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. T. J. Watson Laboratory of Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA

    • Qi-Fan Yang
    • , Xu Yi
    • , Ki Youl Yang
    •  & Kerry Vahala

Authors

  1. Search for Qi-Fan Yang in:

  2. Search for Xu Yi in:

  3. Search for Ki Youl Yang in:

  4. Search for Kerry Vahala in:

Contributions

Experiments were conceived by Q.-F.Y., X.Y., K.Y.Y. and K.V. Analysis of results was conducted by Q.-F.Y., X.Y., K.Y.Y. and K.V. Q.-F.Y. and X.Y. performed measurements. K.Y.Y. fabricated devices. All authors participated in writing the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kerry Vahala.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary information

    Supplementary Information

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2017.117

Further reading