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Optomechanical dissipative solitons

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 24 January 2022

This article has been updated


Nonlinear wave–matter interactions may give rise to solitons, phenomena that feature inherent stability in wave propagation and unusual spectral characteristics. Solitons have been created in a variety of physical systems and have had important roles in a broad range of applications, including communications, spectroscopy and metrology1,2,3,4. In recent years, the realization of dissipative Kerr optical solitons in microcavities has led to the generation of frequency combs in a chip-scale platform5,6,7,8,9,10. Within a cavity, photons can interact with mechanical modes. Cavity optomechanics has found applications for frequency conversion, such as microwave-to-optical or radio-frequency-to-optical11,12,13, of interest for communications and interfacing quantum systems operating at different frequencies. Here we report the observation of mechanical micro-solitons excited by optical fields in an optomechanical microresonator, expanding soliton generation in optical resonators to a different spectral window. The optical field circulating along the circumference of a whispering gallery mode resonator triggers a mechanical nonlinearity through optomechanical coupling, which in turn induces a time-varying periodic modulation on the propagating mechanical mode, leading to a tailored modal dispersion. Stable localized mechanical wave packets—mechanical solitons—can be realized when the mechanical loss is compensated by phonon gain and the optomechanical nonlinearity is balanced by the tailored modal dispersion. The realization of mechanical micro-solitons driven by light opens up new avenues for optomechanical technologies14 and may find applications in acoustic sensing, information processing, energy storage, communications and surface acoustic wave technology.

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Fig. 1: Mechanism of acoustic-wave propagation in an optomechanical resonator.
Fig. 2: Generation of an optomechanical soliton.
Fig. 3: Localized periodic phonon pulses in the cnoidal wave regime and soliton regime.
Fig. 4: Detection of a low-frequency vibration of a cantilever tip by an optomechanical soliton.

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analysed in this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Change history


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The project is supported by the NSF grant number EFMA1641109 and ARO grant numbers W911NF1710189 and W911NF1210026. J.Z. is supported by the NSFC under grant numbers 61622306 and 11674194. Y.-x.L. is supported by the NSFC under grant number 61025022. Y.-x.L. and J.Z. are supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) under grant number 2014CB921401, the Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program, and the Tsinghua National Laboratory for Information Science and Technology (TNList) Cross-discipline Foundation. L.L. is supported by the NSFC under grant number. 61925307. S.K. and A.A. are supported by the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

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Authors and Affiliations



J.Z., B.P., F.M. and L.Y. conceived the idea. L.Y. designed the experiments. J.Z. performed the experiments and processed the data with the help of X.J., Y.L., P.Y. and L.L. J.Z. and S.K. provided theoretical analysis under the guidance of Y.-x.L. and A.A. J.Z. and L.Y. wrote the manuscript with contributions from all authors. L.Y. supervised the project.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lan Yang.

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Zhang, J., Peng, B., Kim, S. et al. Optomechanical dissipative solitons. Nature 600, 75–80 (2021).

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