Optical frequency combs are lightwaves composed of a large number of equidistant spectral lines. They are important for metrology, spectroscopy, communications and fundamental science. Frequency combs are most often generated by exciting dissipative solitons in lasers or in passive resonators, both of which suffer from important limitations. Here we show that the advantages of each platform can be combined. We introduce a novel kind of soliton (called an active cavity soliton) hosted in coherently driven lasers pumped below the lasing threshold. We use an active fibre resonator and measure high-peak-power solitons on a low-power background, in excellent agreement with simulations of a generalized Lugiato–Lefever equation. Moreover, we find that amplified spontaneous emission has negligible impact on the soliton’s stability. Our results open up novel avenues for frequency comb formation by showing that coherent driving and incoherent pumping can be efficiently combined to generate a high-power ultra-stable pulse train.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Nature+
Get immediate online access to the entire Nature family of 50+ journals
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
Akhmediev, N. & Ankiewicz, A. (eds) Dissipative Solitons (Springer-Verlag, 2005); https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783540233732
Grelu, P. & Akhmediev, N. Dissipative solitons for mode-locked lasers. Nat. Photon. 6, 84–92 (2012).
Akhmediev, N. & Ankiewicz, A. (eds) Dissipative Solitons: From Optics to Biology and Medicine (Springer Science and Business Media, 2008).
Hofer, M., Fermann, M. E., Haberl, F., Ober, M. H. & Schmidt, A. J. Mode locking with cross-phase and self-phase modulation. Opt. Lett. 16, 502–504 (1991).
Haus, H. Mode-locking of lasers. IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 6, 1173–1185 (2000).
Wang, F. et al. Wideband-tuneable, nanotube mode-locked, fibre laser. Nat. Nanotechnol. 3, 738–742 (2008).
Quarterman, A. H. et al. A passively mode-locked external-cavity semiconductor laser emitting 60-fs pulses. Nat. Photon. 3, 729–731 (2009).
Kieu, K., Renninger, W. H., Chong, A. & Wise, F. W. Sub-100 fs pulses at watt-level powers from a dissipative-soliton fiber laser. Opt. Lett. 34, 593–595 (2009).
Piccardo, M. et al. Frequency combs induced by phase turbulence. Nature 582, 360–364 (2020).
Wabnitz, S. Suppression of interactions in a phase-locked soliton optical memory. Opt. Lett. 18, 601–603 (1993).
Leo, F. et al. Temporal cavity solitons in one-dimensional Kerr media as bits in an all-optical buffer. Nat. Photon. 4, 471–476 (2010).
Herr, T. et al. Temporal solitons in optical microresonators. Nat. Photon. 8, 145–152 (2014).
Yi, X., Yang, Q. F., Yang, K. Y., Suh, M. G. & Vahala, K. Soliton frequency comb at microwave rates in a high-Q silica microresonator. Optica 2, 1078–1085 (2015).
Brasch, V. et al. Photonic chip-based optical frequency comb using soliton Cherenkov radiation. Science 351, 357–360 (2016).
Lilienfein, N. et al. Temporal solitons in free-space femtosecond enhancement cavities. Nat. Photon. 13, 214–218 (2019).
Udem, T., Holzwarth, R. & Hänsch, T. W. Optical frequency metrology. Nature 416, 233–237 (2002).
Gordon, J. P. & Haus, H. A. Random walk of coherently amplified solitons in optical fiber transmission. Opt. Lett. 11, 665–667 (1986).
Kim, J. & Song, Y. Ultralow-noise mode-locked fiber lasers and frequency combs: principles, status, and applications. Adv. Opt. Photon. 8, 465–540 (2016).
Yoshitomi, D. et al. Ultralow-jitter passive timing stabilization of a mode-locked Er-doped fiber laser by injection of an optical pulse train. Op. Lett. 31, 3243–3245 (2006).
Quinlan, F., Gee, S., Ozharar, S. & Delfyett, P. J. Greater than 20-dB supermode noise suppression and timing jitter reduction via CW injection of a harmonically mode-locked laser. IEEE Photon. Technol. Lett. 19, 1221–1223 (2007).
Rebrova, N., Habruseva, T., Huyet, G. & Hegarty, S. P. Stabilization of a passively mode-locked laser by continuous wave optical injection. Appl. Phys. Lett. 97, 101105 (2010).
Garbin, B., Javaloyes, J., Tissoni, G. & Barland, S. Topological solitons as addressable phase bits in a driven laser. Nat. Commun. 6, 1–7 (2015).
Bao, H. et al. Laser cavity-soliton microcombs. Nat. Photon. 13, 384–389 (2019).
Choi, J. M., Lee, R. K. & Yariv, A. Control of critical coupling in a ring resonator-fiber configuration: application to wavelength-selective switching, modulation, amplification, and oscillation. Opt. Lett. 26, 1236–1238 (2001).
Dumeige, Y. et al. Determination of coupling regime of high-Q resonators and optical gain of highly selective amplifiers. JOSA B 25, 2073–2080 (2008).
Hsiao, H.K. & Winick, K. A. Planar glass waveguide ring resonators with gain. Opt. Exp. 15, 17783–17797 (2007).
Barland, S. et al. Cavity solitons as pixels in semiconductor microcavities. Nature 419, 699–702 (2002).
Lugiato, L. A. & Lefever, R. Spatial dissipative structures in passive optical systems. Phys. Rev. Lett. 58, 2209–2211 (1987).
Haelterman, M., Trillo, S. & Wabnitz, S. Dissipative modulation instability in a nonlinear dispersive ring cavity. Opt. Commun. 91, 401–407 (1992).
Jang, J. K., Erkintalo, M., Murdoch, S. G. & Coen, S. Ultraweak long-range interactions of solitons observed over astronomical distances. Nature Photonics 7, 657–663 (2013).
Coen, S. & Erkintalo, M. Universal scaling laws of Kerr frequency combs. Opt. Lett. 38, 1790–1792 (2013).
Beck, M., Knobloch, J., Lloyd, D. J. B., Sandstede, B. & Wagenknecht, T. Snakes, ladders, and isolas of localized patterns. SIAM J. Math.l Anal. 41, 936–972 (2009).
Wang, Y. et al. Addressing temporal Kerr cavity solitons with a single pulse of intensity modulation. Opt. Lett. 43, 3192–3195 (2018).
Leo, F., Gelens, L., Emplit, P., Haelterman, M. & Coen, S. Dynamics of one-dimensional Kerr cavity solitons. Opt. Exp. 21, 9180–9191 (2013).
Obrzud, E., Lecomte, S. & Herr, T. Temporal solitons in microresonators driven by optical pulses. Nat. Photon. 11, 600–607 (2017).
Hinkley, N. et al. An atomic clock with 10–18 instability. Science 341, 1215–1218 (2013).
Marin-Palomo, P. et al. Microresonator-based solitons for massively parallel coherent optical communications. Nature 546, 274–279 (2017).
Newman, Z. L. et al. Architecture for the photonic integration of an optical atomic clock. Optica 6, 680–685 (2019).
Liu, J. et al. Photonic microwave generation in the X- and K-band using integrated soliton microcombs. Nat. Photon. 14, 486–491 (2020).
Kippenberg, T. J., Kalkman, J., Polman, A. & Vahala, K. J. Demonstration of an erbium-doped microdisk laser on a silicon chip. Phys. Rev. A 74, 051802 (2006).
Beeck, C. O. D. et al. Heterogeneous iii–v on silicon nitride amplifiers and lasers via microtransfer printing. Optica 7, 386–393 (2020).
Bosenberg, W. R., Drobshoff, A., Alexander, J. I., Myers, L. E. & Byer, R. L. 93% Pump depletion, 3.5-W continuous-wave, singly resonant optical parametric oscillator. Opt. Lett. 21, 1336–1338 (1996).
Englebert, N. et al. Parametrically driven Kerr cavity solitons. Preprint at https://arxiv.org/abs/2101.07784 (2021).
Volet, N. et al. Micro-resonator soliton generated directly with a diode laser. Laser Photon. Rev. 12, 1700307 (2018).
We are grateful to J. Fatome, P. Kockaert, B. Kuyken and K. Van Gasse for fruitful discussions. This work was supported by funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 757800). N.E. acknowledges the support of the Fonds pour la formation à la Recherche dans l’Industrie et dans l’Agriculture (FRIA). F.L. and P.P.-R. acknowledge the support of the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS).
N.E., S.-P.G. and F.L. filed a patent application on the active resonator design (European patent office, application number EP20188731.2). The remaining authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Photonics thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Englebert, N., Mas Arabí, C., Parra-Rivas, P. et al. Temporal solitons in a coherently driven active resonator. Nat. Photon. 15, 536–541 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-021-00807-w
Nature Photonics (2022)
Nature Photonics (2021)