Temporal solitons in microresonators driven by optical pulses

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Continuous-wave laser-driven, high-Q Kerr–nonlinear optical microresonators have enabled the generation of optical frequency combs, ultralow-noise microwaves and ultrashort optical pulses at tens of gigahertz repetition rate. Here, we break with the paradigm of the continuous-wave driving and instead use periodic, picosecond optical pulses. In a fibre-based Fabry–Pérot microresonator we observe the deterministic generation of stable femtosecond dissipative cavity solitons ‘on top’ of the resonantly enhanced driving pulses. The solitons lock to the driving pulse, which enables direct all-optical control of the soliton's repetition rate and tuning of its carrier-envelope offset frequency. When compared with continuous-wave-driven microresonators or non-resonant pulsed supercontinuum generation, this new approach is more efficient and can yield broadband frequency combs at an average driving power significantly below the continuous-wave parametric threshold. Bridging the fields of continuous-wave-driven resonant and pulse-driven non-resonant nonlinear optics, these results enable efficient microresonator frequency combs, resonant supercontinuum generation and microphotonic pulse compression.

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Figure 1: Experimental scheme and set-up.
Figure 2: Experimental soliton generation.
Figure 3: Numerical simulation of soliton formation in a pulse-driven microresonator.
Figure 4: Comparison of c.w. versus pulsed driving and multi-solitons.
Figure 5: Soliton-to-pulse locking.


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The authors thank T. Kippenberg, V. Brasch, E. Lucas, S. Diddams and S. Papp for discussions. This work was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) grant 200021_166108 and the Canton of Neuchâtel.

Author information

E.O., S.L. and T.H. set up the pulsed laser. S.L. and T.H. designed the microresonator. E.O. and T.H. performed the experiments and simulations. T.H. conceived and supervised the work. All authors participated in writing the Article.

Correspondence to Tobias Herr.

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CSEM has filed patent applications on both the fibre-based resonator and the pulsed driving of a resonator.

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Obrzud, E., Lecomte, S. & Herr, T. Temporal solitons in microresonators driven by optical pulses. Nature Photon 11, 600–607 (2017) doi:10.1038/nphoton.2017.140

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