Broad transparency window and high piezoelectric, acousto-optic, second-order nonlinear, and electro-optic (EO) coefficients characterize crystalline lithium niobate (LN) as the “silicon in photonics.”1
The polygon-shaped modes in large LN microdisks have demonstrated high factors due to reduced scattering losses on their propagation paths.32 In this work, by exciting polygon modes and avoiding the dense WGMs, we demonstrated single-frequency lasing in large -doped LN microdisks with an ultranarrow linewidth. EO tuning of the laser wavelength was realized with a high linear tuning efficiency of .
2 Construction of the Microlaser
2.1 Active Microdisk Fabrication
The fabrication process of the microdisk begins from the preparation of an -doped Z-cut LN thin-film wafer by ion slicing. The doping concentration of is 1% (mole fraction). The fabrication flow of the microdisk resonators mainly consists of four steps. First, a chromium (Cr) thin layer was coated on the LN thin-film wafer and then patterned into microdisks using femtosecond laser micromachining. The removal of the Cr thin film with a high spatial resolution was achieved by femtosecond laser ablation. Second, the microdisk pattern was transferred from the Cr layer to the LN thin film via chemo-mechanical polishing. Third, the microelectrodes were fabricated on the Cr layer again using the space-selective femtosecond laser ablation. Finally, the silica layer underneath the LN disk was partially undercut to form the supporting pedestals for supporting the LN thin-film microdisks. The details of the fabrication can be found in Refs. 17 and 33. An optical micrograph of the fabricated microdisk integrated with electrodes is shown in the inset of Fig. 1 (bottom right). The distance between the microelectrodes is . The zoom-in scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of the fabricated microcavity without microelectrodes is also shown in the inset of Fig. 1 (bottom middle), which consists of an -doped LN microdisk with a thickness of 700 nm and a diameter , indicating an ultrasmooth surface. The microdisk is supported by a thin silica pedestal (with a diameter of ) on the LN substrate. The principal dielectric axes of LN are illustrated in the inset of Fig. 1.
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Figure 1.The experimental setup for lasing and polarization measurement. A variable optical attenuator (VOA) was used to tune the input power into the
2.2 Experimental Setup
The experimental setup is illustrated in Fig. 1. A narrow-linewidth tunable diode laser (Model: TLB-6719, New Focus, Inc.) was used as the pump light source, and the pump laser wavelength was tuned to be resonant with a specific transverse electric (TE) polarized cavity mode around 968 nm. The laser was coupled to the microdisk via a tapered fiber with a waist size of . The position between the tapered fiber and the microdisk was adjusted by a three-dimensional (3D) piezo stage with a 20-nm resolution. An optical imaging system consisting of a microscope objective lens with a numerical aperture (NA) of 0.42, long-pass filters (Thorlabs, Inc., Model: FELH1100), and an infrared (IR) charge-coupled device (CCD) was used to monitor the coupling system from the top and capture the intensity profile of the lasing modes around 1550-nm wavelength. To capture the intensity profiles of the pump mode and upconversion fluorescence signal in the microdisk, a visible CCD and a set of long-pass filters and short-pass filters (Thorlabs, Inc., Model: FEL800 and FES800) were used to take the place of the IR CCD and long-pass filters in the optical micrograph system for blocking the upconversion fluorescence, and combination of the pump light and the lasing signal, respectively. The generated emission from the microdisk was coupled out by the same tapered fiber and sent into either an optical spectrum analyzer (OSA for short, YOKOGAWA, Inc., Model AQ6370D, detection range: 600 to 1700 nm) or a fiber spectrometer [Ocean Optics, Inc., Model USB2000+ (VIS-NIR), detection range: 350 to 1000 nm] for spectral analysis. Meanwhile, the polarization states of the pump and lasing modes were checked via a precalibrated wire grating polarizer (WGP) by collecting the signals scattered from the edge of the microdisk. The resolutions of the OSA and the spectrometer were set as 0.01 and 1.5 nm, respectively.
2.3 Polygon Mode Formation
When the relative position between the tapered fiber and the center of the microdisk was adjusted to [inset in Fig. 2(c)], the single-mode laser peaking at 1546-nm wavelength was observed in TE polarization, as shown in Fig. 2(a). The IR CCD captured the top view of the lasing mode in Fig. 2(b), which displays a square pattern in the microdisk. The large overlap between the lasing mode pattern and those of the pump mode at 968 nm and the upconversion fluorescence at wavelengths [shown in Fig. 2(b)], ensures that conventional high-density WGMs circulating around the circumference of the disk cannot be efficiently excited. The relatively large free spectral range (FSR) of 11.5 nm facilitates single-mode lasing within the gain bandwidth of . Figure 2(d) confirms that the laser exhibits a side mode suppression ratio of 37.0 dB. The output power of the laser signal as a function of the pump power is plotted in Fig. 2(e), indicating a lasing threshold of merely . The maximum output power of the microlaser was measured as (i.e., ) when the dropped pump power was 20 mW. For comparison, we also pumped the microdisk to exhibit a conventional WGM at the pump laser wavelength of 971.5 nm, giving rise to the multiple-mode lasing shown in Fig. 2(f).
Figure 2.(a) Spectra of the microlaser output powers at different pump power levels. (b) The optical micrograph of the square lasing mode at 1546-nm wavelength. Inset: the optical micrographs of the square modes of the upconversion fluorescence around the 550-nm wavelength (left) and the pump light (right). (c) Spectrum of the upconversion fluorescence and the pump light. Inset: optical micrograph of the tapered fiber coupled with the microdisk. (d) Spectrum of lasing. (e) Laser output power versus pump power dropped to the cavity shows a pump threshold of
2.4 Mode Structure Measurements
In principle, WGMs feature ultrahigh factors based on the nature of total internal reflection. In reality, however, these modes suffer from the inevitable surface roughness introduced during fabrication, as their optical pathways overlap with the periphery of the cavity. The polygon modes have their main propagation paths away from the boundary yet preserve the total internal reflection condition at the bouncing points. Thus, polygon modes can have competitively high factors over those of WGMs. This was proved experimentally based on an undoped microdisk that had the same geometry as the microlaser. Figures 3(a) and 3(d) show the transmission spectra around 968 and 1546 nm when two tunable diode lasers (Model: TLB-6719 & 6728, New Focus, Inc.) with an output power of were used to investigate the modes at the pump and lasing wavelength range. The tapered fiber was placed at the same location as the microlaser experiment, so that polygon modes were excited in both wavelength regions. The loaded factors of polygon modes at 968- and 1546-nm wavelength [Figs. 3(b) and 3(e)] were both measured to be above , about one order of magnitude higher than that of conventional WGMs in the vicinity [Figs. 3(c) and 3(f)].
Figure 3.Transmission spectra of the tapered fiber coupled with the microdisk. (a) Transmission spectrum around the pump wavelength, where each blue line segment with two arrows indicates an FSR. (b) The
2.5 Linewidth Characterization
With such a high factor, a laser based on the polygon mode can have an ultranarrow linewidth based on the relationship between the laser linewidth and the factor of an undoped cavity.32 As shown in Fig. 4(a), we measured the linewidth by heterodyning two independently pumped single-mode microlasers.34 Since the two microdisks have the same diameter, a relative lasing frequency difference of can be achieved by adjusting the pump powers.16
Figure 4.Linewidth measurement. (a) The experimental setup. (b) The spectrum of the detected beating signal for an output power of
2.6 Real-Time Wavelength Tuning
For the sake of application, the ability of wavelength tuning is usually required, especially for lasers with an ultranarrow linewidth. The wavelength of an LN microlaser can be tuned via temperature or pump power control.16
Figure 5.(a) Lasing wavelength drift with different pump powers. (b) Lasing wavelength versus pump power. The linear fitting (red curve) shows a slope of
3 Numerical Modeling
The underlying physics behind the polygon modes can be further explained by performing a 2D finite element simulation using COMSOL. In our simulation, the extraordinary and ordinary refractive indices of LN used in the simulation are and for the pump wavelength and and for the laser wavelength.39 To provide sufficient perturbation for polygon modes, a tapered fiber is placed on top of the disk and we use the effective index method to compute the effective refractive index of the fiber-disk overlap regime.40,41Figures 6(a) and 6(b) show the intensity profiles of the square mode and fundamental WGM at the pump wavelengths while Figs. 6(c), 6(f), and 6(i) display the square mode, fundamental, and high order WGMs, respectively. It is worth mentioning that within one FSR around each of the laser and pump wavelengths, multiple numbers of WGMs coexist but only the single square mode will appear due to the stringent requirement for polygon mode formation. We then compute the overlap factor between different laser and pump modes defined by
Figure 6.The intensity distributions of (a) the square mode and (b) the fundamental WGM at the pump wavelengths. Left column: (c) the square mode, (f) the fundamental WGM, and (i) high order WGM at lasing wavelengths. (d)–(k) The intensity distributions of the integrand between each laser mode in the left column and either pump mode in the top row. Here, the larger overlap (
Here, and are normalized pump () and laser () intensities such that and is the volume integral over full space. The minimum pump threshold occurs when the laser and pump mode intensity overlap Γ is maximized, which can be found in the Supplementary Material.42 The distributions of the integrand between different pump and laser modes are displayed in the rest of the subplots in Fig. 6. As shown, when the pump is in the square mode, its overlap factor with a square mode at the laser wavelength is [Fig. 6(d)] while its overlap factor with the fundamental and high-order WGM can be as low as [Fig. 6(g)] and [Fig. 6(j)]. The significantly higher overlap coefficient ensures that only the square mode will have a sufficient optical gain for lasing. In addition, the FSR is larger than the gain bandwidth of . Therefore, the square mode at neighboring FSRs will not be excited either due to lower gain. Consequently, single mode operation can be achieved when the polygon mode is formed at the pump wavelength. In contrast, when a regular WGM is formed by the pump, multiple WGMs within the gain bandwidth may lase simultaneously as the of the laser and pump WGMs are close in value [e.g., the overlap between the pump fundamental WGM and high order laser mode can be as high as (Fig. 6(k)]. Finally, it is also worth mentioning that the two-dimensional (2D) simulation will not allow the precise evaluation of the overall quality factor of the coupled cavity due to the unphysically large reflection incurred at the fiber-to-disk interfaces. The issue can be overcome with a full-wave 3D mode match method, which will be applied in future research.40,41 Nevertheless, the 2D simulation results capture the essence of the polygon mode microlaser, which faithfully reproduces the main features of the observed microdisk laser mode as shown above.
4 Conclusions and Discussion
The formation of coherent polygon modes with ultrahigh factors has allowed for the realization of single-mode narrow-linewidth microlasers in single LN microdisks, which has significant implications for the miniaturization of optical systems in which highly coherent laser sources must be incorporated. To achieve a fully integrated EO tunable polygon mode microdisk laser, the suspended microdisk can be replaced with a microdisk sitting on the fused silica substrate to achieve better mechanical stability. A cladding layer of fused silica is then coated on the LNOI microdisk, which is flattened by polishing to support a coupling waveguide. Then, the fiber taper can be replaced with a waveguide lithographically fabricated on top of the fused silica cladding, and the polygon mode is formed by controlling the coupling location of the upper waveguide and lower LNOI microdisk, allowing for the construction of a fully integrated narrow-linewidth EO tunable polygon mode microdisk laser. Further exploration of the strong piezoelectric, acousto-optic, and second-order nonlinear properties of the LN will promote the performance and functionality of the single-mode microdisk laser in a straightforward manner without the necessity of heterogeneous integration.
Jintian Lin is an associate professor at Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, CAS. He received his BS degree in optical information science and technology from Sun Yat-sen University in 2009 and his PhD in optics from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2014. His current research interests include integrated optics, nonlinear optics, and micro/nano-processing.
Biographies of the other authors are not available.
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