Spatial multiplexing of soliton microcombs


Dual-comb interferometry utilizes two optical frequency combs to map the optical field’s spectrum to a radio-frequency signal without using moving parts, allowing improved speed and accuracy. However, the method is compounded by the complexity and demanding stability associated with operating multiple laser frequency combs. To overcome these challenges, we demonstrate simultaneous generation of multiple frequency combs from a single optical microresonator and a single continuous-wave laser. Similar to space-division multiplexing, we generate several dissipative Kerr soliton states—circulating solitonic pulses driven by a continuous-wave laser—in different spatial (or polarization) modes of a MgF2 microresonator. Up to three distinct combs are produced simultaneously, featuring excellent mutual coherence and substantial repetition rate differences, useful for fast acquisition and efficient rejection of soliton intermodulation products. Dual-comb spectroscopy with amplitude and phase retrieval, as well as optical sampling of a breathing soliton, is realized with the free-running system. Compatibility with photonic-integrated resonators could enable the deployment of dual- and triple-comb-based methods to applications where they remained impractical with current technology.

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Fig. 1: Principle of spatial multiplexing of solitons in a single microresonator.
Fig. 2: Dual-comb generation with spatially multiplexed co-propagating solitons.
Fig. 3: Dual-comb generation with spatially multiplexed counter-propagating solitons and proof-of-principle spectroscopy.
Fig. 4: Resolving the breathing dynamics of a soliton.
Fig. 5: Triple comb generation in a single resonator by multiplexing in three mode families.

Data availability

The code and data used to produce the plots within this paper are available at All other data used in this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.


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The authors thank N. Newbury for important suggestions and comments. The authors thank J. D. Jost and W. Weng for their assistance as well as J. Liu, H. Guo, N. J. Engelsen and M. Anderson for their feedback on the manuscript. This publication was supported by funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation under grant agreement 163864, by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Air Force Material Command, USAF under award no. FA9550-15-1-0099, and by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation under project RFMEFI58516X0005. E.L. acknowledges the support of the European Space Technology Centre with ESA contract no. 4000118777/16/NL/GM.

Author information




E.L. and G.L. designed the experimental set-up. E.L. performed the experiments and analysed the data. G.L. fabricated the device, with assistance from N.G.P. E.L., R.B. and A.S.R. performed the experimental comb linewidth measurement. M.K. and A.S.R. assembled the RF components for the single sideband modulator driving. E.L. wrote the manuscript, with input from the other authors. T.J.K. and M.L.G. supervised the project.

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Correspondence to E. Lucas or T. J. Kippenberg.

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Supplementary Information

This file contains supplementary figures and additional information about the work.

Supplementary Video 1

This movie shows the spectrum of an animated breathing soliton.

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Lucas, E., Lihachev, G., Bouchand, R. et al. Spatial multiplexing of soliton microcombs. Nature Photon 12, 699–705 (2018).

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