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Published November 25, 2021 | public
Journal Article Open

On-chip electro-optic frequency shifters and beam splitters


Efficient frequency shifting and beam splitting are important for a wide range of applications, including atomic physics, microwave photonics, optical communication and photonic quantum computing. However, realizing gigahertz-scale frequency shifts with high efficiency, low loss and tunability—in particular using a miniature and scalable device—is challenging because it requires efficient and controllable nonlinear processes. Existing approaches based on acousto-optics, all-optical wave mixing and electro-optics are either limited to low efficiencies or frequencies, or are bulky. Furthermore, most approaches are not bi-directional, which renders them unsuitable for frequency beam splitters. Here we demonstrate electro-optic frequency shifters that are controlled using only continuous and single-tone microwaves. This is accomplished by engineering the density of states of, and coupling between, optical modes in ultralow-loss waveguides and resonators in lithium niobate nanophotonics. Our devices, consisting of two coupled ring-resonators, provide frequency shifts as high as 28 gigahertz with an on-chip conversion efficiency of approximately 90 per cent. Importantly, the devices can be reconfigured as tunable frequency-domain beam splitters. We also demonstrate a non-blocking and efficient swap of information between two frequency channels with one of the devices. Finally, we propose and demonstrate a scheme for cascaded frequency shifting that allows shifts of 119.2 gigahertz using a 29.8 gigahertz continuous and single-tone microwave signal. Our devices could become building blocks for future high-speed and large-scale classical information processors as well as emerging frequency-domain photonic quantum computers.

Additional Information

© 2021 Nature Publishing Group. Received 12 May 2020; Accepted 07 September 2021; Published 24 November 2021; Issue Date 25 November 2021. We thank C. Wang, C. Reimer, J. Lukens and P. Lougovski for helpful discussions. This work is supported by the US Office of Naval Research (QOMAND N00014-15-1-2761), Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550‐19‐1‐0310 and FA9550-20-1-0105), National Science Foundation (ECCS-1839197, ECCS-1541959 and PFI-TT IIP-1827720), Army Research Office (W911NF2010248), and Department of Energy (HEADS-QON DE-SC0020376). Device fabrication was performed at the Harvard University Center for Nanoscale Systems. D.Z. acknowledges support by the Harvard Quantum Initiative post-doctoral fellowship. N.S. acknowledges support by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the AQT Intelligent Quantum Networks and Technologies (INQNET) research programme. E.P. acknowledges support by a Draper Fellowship. Data availability: The datasets generated and analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Author Contributions: Y.H. and M.Z. conceived the idea. Y.H. developed the theory, performed numerical simulations and fabricated the devices. Y.H., M.Y. and D.Z. carried out the measurements with N.S. assisting. Y.H., N.S., D.Z., M.Y., M.Z. and M.L. wrote the manuscript. A.S.-A., L.S., J.H. and E.P. helped with the project. M.L. supervised the project. Competing interests: M.Z. and M.L. are involved in developing lithium niobate technologies at HyperLight Corporation. Peer review information: Nature thanks Andrew Weiner and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.

Attached Files

Accepted Version - 2005.09621.pdf

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Supplemental Material - 41586_2021_3999_MOESM2_ESM.pdf

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Additional details

September 22, 2023
September 22, 2023