Nonlinearity in complex systems leads to pattern formation through fundamental interactions between components. With integrated photonics, precision control of nonlinearity explores novel patterns and propels applications. In particular, Kerr-nonlinear resonators support stationary states—including Turing patterns—composed of a few interfering waves, and localized solitons composed of waves across a broad spectrum. Although Turing patterns emerge from an unstable Kerr resonator with sufficiently intense excitation, Kerr solitons do not form spontaneously under constant excitation, making this useful state challenging to access. Here we explore an edgeless photonic crystal resonator (PhCR) that enables spontaneous soliton formation in place of Turing patterns. We design the PhCR nanopattern for single-azimuthal-mode engineering of a group-velocity-dispersion defect that balances Kerr-nonlinear frequency shifts in favour of the soliton state. Our experiments establish PhCR solitons as modelocked pulses through ultraprecise optical-frequency measurements. We show that nanophotonics expand the palette for nonlinear engineering, enabling new phenomena and light sources.
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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
The simulation codes used in this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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Funding was provided by the DARPA DODOS (all authors), and DRINQS and PIPES programmes (S.-P.Y., D.C.C., H.J., S.B.P.). We acknowledge the Boulder Microfabrication Facility, where the devices were fabricated. We thank T. Briles and J. Chiles for a careful reading of the manuscript. This work is a contribution of the US Government and is not subject to copyright. Mention of specific companies or trade names is for scientific communication only, and does not constitute an endorsement by NIST.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Photonics thanks Maxim Shcherbakov, Yun-Feng Xiao and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Yu, SP., Cole, D.C., Jung, H. et al. Spontaneous pulse formation in edgeless photonic crystal resonators. Nat. Photonics 15, 461–467 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-021-00800-3
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