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Message ID: 38     Entry time: Mon Oct 11 15:22:18 2021
Author: Yehonathan 
Type: General 
Category: General 
Subject: Microcomb alternatives 

Following our discussion at the Friday JC meeting, I gathered several resources and made a small simulation to show how frequency combs might be generated on platforms other than microcombs or mode-locked lasers.

Indeed, frequency combs generated directly from a mode-locked laser are expensive as they require ultra-broadband operation (emitting few fs pulses) to allow for f-2f interferometry.

Microcombs are a fancy way of generating combs. They are low-power-consuming, chip-scale, have a high repetition rate, and are highly compatible with Silicon technology. While these are huge advantages for industry, they might be disadvantageous for our purpose. Low-power means that the output comb will be weak (on the order of uW of average power). Microscopic/chip-scale means that they suffer from thermal fluctuations. High rep-rate means we will have to worry about tuning our lasers/comb to get beat notes with frequencies smaller than 1GHz.

Alternatively, and this is what companies like Menlo are selling as full-solution frequency combs, we could use much less fancy mode-locked lasers emitting 50fs - 1ps pulses and broaden their spectrum in a highly nonlinear waveguide, either on a chip or a fiber, either in a cavity or linear topologies. This has all the advantages:

1. High-power (typically 100mW)

2. Low rep-rate (typically 100MHz)

3. Relatively cheap

4. "Narrowband" mode-locked lasers are diverse and can come as a fiber laser which offers high stability.

As a proof of concept, I used this generalized Schrodinger equation solver python package to simulate 1d light propagation in a nonlinear waveguide. I simulated pulses coming out of this "pocket" laser (specs in attachment 1) using 50mW average power out of the available 180mW propagating in a 20cm long piece of this highly nonlinear fiber (specs in attachment 2).

The results are shown in attachments 3-4:

Attachment 3 shows the spectrum of the pulse as a function of propagation distance.

Attachment 4 shows the spectrum and the temporal shape of the pulse at the input and output of the fiber.

It can be seen that the spectrum is octave-spanning and reaches 2um at moderate powers.

One important thing to consider in choosing the parameters of the laser and fiber is the coherence of the generated supercontinuum. According to this paper and others, >100fs pulses and/or too much power (100mW average is roughly the limit for 50fs pulses) result in incoherent spectra which is useless in laser locking or 1f-2f interferometry. These limitations apply only when pumping in the anomalous dispersion regime as traditionally have been done. Pumping in an all-normal (but low) dispersion (like in this fiber) can generate coherent spectra even for 1ps pulses according to this paper and others. So even cheaper lasers can be used. ps pulses will require few meter-long fibers though.

 

 

Attachment 1: ELMO_specs.png  139 kB  Uploaded Mon Oct 11 17:32:09 2021  | Hide | Hide all
ELMO_specs.png
Attachment 2: HNLF_specs.png  74 kB  Uploaded Mon Oct 11 17:36:41 2021  | Hide | Hide all
HNLF_specs.png
Attachment 3: SimulationResults1.png  207 kB  Uploaded Mon Oct 11 17:48:43 2021  | Hide | Hide all
SimulationResults1.png
Attachment 4: SimulationResults3.png  60 kB  Uploaded Mon Oct 11 18:12:31 2021  | Hide | Hide all
SimulationResults3.png
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