Columbia University Engineers Build Smallest Integrated Kerr Frequency Comb Generator

Posted: Oct 9 2018, 1:17pm CDT | by , Updated: Oct 9 2018, 1:51pm CDT , in Latest Science News


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Engineers Create Smallest Integrated Kerr Frequency Comb Generator
An illustration showing an array of micro-ring resonators on a chip converting laser light into frequency combs. Credit: Brian Stern/Columbia Engineering
  • Engineers create Exciting New Mini Comb Generator Technology

Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science researchers have built a Kerr frequency comb generator that integrates the laser with the microresonator for the first time ever.

The hard sciences depend on certainly specialized combs that help aid various processes. These include in their purview: telecommunications, pathfinding, tests in the field of medicine and surveillance.

The optical frequency comb method has many applications and it came into being thirteen years ago. It is currently seeing major advancements as the progressive vistas seem to be limitless. One of the main focal points of research and development on this front was how to make such combs smallest, stronger and capable of being taken from here to there and back.

The past decade or so has seen microchip technology come to the rescue of comb generators. These generators are so small that they have a width less than a single strand of human hair.

Yet the lasers that cause these generators to function in the first place are pretty hefty stuff. Not only are they big, but they also cost a ton of money and take up way too much energy. Now though scientists have put two and two together to come up with a Kerr frequency comb generator.

Thus the laser has been incorporated into the generator thereby saving up on so many levels. Half the technology is superconductor-based while the other half is composed of silicon nitride.

The photon-inspired microchips are small in stature and very efficacious. Once the optic loss is of a lesser nature, the generation frequency would be low as well.

This was something the technicians knew with certainty. A decade of backbreaking research lies behind this technology. This work was necessary to lower the energy costs that were required to see the operations through to their final conclusion.

Microresonators are mini-sized, circles made of silicon, glass and silicon nitride. Light travels in the cavity leading to a sizable quantity of power being generated.

Once the basics are put in place, a single laser shot will generate a comb frequency. The light gets so concentrated that it sends a reflection from the ring. The circle acted like one of the laser’s mirrors so that the overall synergy of this device makes it all dovetail in a beautiful manner. This work occurred in a space that was just a few millimeters.

The further good news is that only an AAA powered electronic battery is sufficient to fuel this procedure. This in itself opens ever-expanding horizons of change for science and technology. It seems the more things change, the less they change. We have literally found ourselves unable to differentiate between technology and magic at this advanced and late stage of our evolution.

The gadget has much scope in everyday life. From timepieces to LIDAR function in self-driving cars and from spectroscopes to eco-biological trace elements, it can perform many of our jobs for us. The task is to transfer this unique technology from lab settings to wearables.

That stage will be reached soon as well seeing the pace at which change is occurring currently. This is indeed a path worth exploring for science and turning back at this critical milestone would be tantamount to the ultimate in irrationality.

The technology is there and the means of pursuing it is also available. According to Alexander Gaeta, who was one of the research group’s co-leaders, “It’s compact size and low power requirements open the door to developing portable frequency comb devices”.

Furthermore, Michael Lipson has spoken on the matter saying that “Last year we demonstrated that we could reproducibly achieve very transparent low-loss waveguides. This work was key to reducing the power needed to generate a frequency comb on-chip, which we show in this new paper.” So it appears to be the case that this technology definitely holds promise in the futuristic scenario.

Columbia Engineering researchers published the findings of this new study in the journal Nature.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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