Hybrid electro-optically modulated microcombs

Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Dec 28;109(26):263901. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.109.263901. Epub 2012 Dec 26.


Optical frequency combs based on mode-locked lasers have proven to be invaluable tools for a wide range of applications in precision spectroscopy and metrology. A novel principle of optical frequency comb generation in whispering-gallery mode microresonators ("microcombs") has been developed recently, which represents a promising route towards chip-level integration and out-of-the-lab use of these devices. Presently, two families of microcombs have been demonstrated: Combs with electronically detectable mode spacing that can be directly stabilized, and broadband combs with up to octave-spanning spectra but mode spacings beyond electronic detection limits. However, it has not yet been possible to achieve these two key requirements simultaneously, as will be critical for most microcomb applications. Here we present a route to overcome this problem by interleaving an electro-optic comb with the spectrum from a parametric microcomb. This allows, for the first time, direct control and stabilization of a microcomb spectrum with large mode spacing (>140 GHz) with no need for an additional mode-locked laser frequency comb. The attained residual 1-sec instability of the microcomb comb spacing is 10(-15), with a microwave reference limited absolute instability of 10(-12) at a 140 GHz mode spacing.