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A fully hybrid integrated erbium-based laser

Abstract

Erbium-doped fibre lasers exhibit high coherence and low noise as required for fibre-optic sensing, gyroscopes, LiDAR and optical frequency metrology. Endowing erbium-based gain in photonic integrated circuits can provide a basis for miniaturizing low-noise fibre lasers to the chip-scale form factor and enable large-volume applications. Although major progress has been made on integrated lasers based on silicon photonics with III–V gain media, realizing low-noise integrated erbium-based lasers has, however, remained unachievable. Recent advances in photonic-integrated-circuit-based high-power erbium-doped amplifiers make a new class of rare-earth-ion-based lasers possible. Here we demonstrate a fully integrated erbium laser that achieves 50 Hz intrinsic linewidth, high output power up to 17 mW, low intensity noise and integration of a III–V pump laser, approaching the performance of fibre lasers and state-of-the-art semiconductor extended-cavity lasers. The laser circuit is based on an erbium-ion-implanted ultralow-loss silicon nitride photonic integrated circuit, with an intracavity microring-based Vernier filter that enables >40 nm wavelength tunability within the optical C and L bands and attains a 70 dB side-mode suppression ratio. This new class of low-noise, tunable integrated laser could find applications in LiDAR, microwave photonics, optical frequency synthesis and free-space communications, with wavelength extendibility using different rare-earth ion species.

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Fig. 1: A hybrid integrated Er:Si3N4 laser.
Fig. 2: A hybrid integrated Er:Si3N4 Vernier laser operated at single-mode lasing.
Fig. 3: Demonstration of wideband tuning of the laser wavelength.
Fig. 4: Laser noise properties and the fully hybrid integration of an EDWL.

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Data availability

The data used to produce the plots within this paper are available via Zenodo at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10781807 (ref. 69).

Code availability

The code used to produce the plots within this paper is available via Zenodo at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10781807 (ref. 69).

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Acknowledgements

Silicon nitride samples were fabricated in the EPFL Center of MicroNanoTechnology (CMi). This work was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) under award no. FA9550-19-1-0250, and by contract W911NF2120248 (NINJA) from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Microsystems Technology Office (MTO). Y.L. further acknowledges support from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie IF grant no. 898594 (CompADC) and the SNSF under grant no. 221540 (BRIDGE PoC). G.L. acknowledges support from the SNSF under grant no. 214626.

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Authors

Contributions

Y.L. conceived the idea and concept. Y.L. and Z.Q. performed the experiments. Y.L. carried out the data analysis and simulations. Y.L. and Z.Q. designed the Si3N4 waveguide laser chips. X.J., G.L. and J.R. provided experimental support. A.B. and A.V. designed and performed the device packaging. R.N.W., Z.Q. and X.J. fabricated the passive Si3N4 samples. Y.L. wrote the manuscript with assistance from Z.Q. and input from all co-authors. T.J.K. supervised the project.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Yang Liu or Tobias J. Kippenberg.

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Competing interests

T.J.K. is a co-founder and shareholder of LiGenTec SA, a start-up company offering Si3N4 photonic integrated circuits as a foundry service. T.J.K. is a founder and shareholder of EDWATEC SA, a start-up company offering Er-doped photonic integrated circuits. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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Liu, Y., Qiu, Z., Ji, X. et al. A fully hybrid integrated erbium-based laser. Nat. Photon. (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-024-01454-7

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