Tech Briefs

Optical sidebands have been generated with relative frequency tens to hundreds of GHz by using optical sidebands that are generated in a cascade process in high-quality optical resonators with Kerr nonlinearity, such as whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators. For this purpose, the WGM resonator needs to be optically pumped at two frequencies matching its resonances. These two optical components can be one or several free spectral ranges (FSRs), equal to approximately 12 GHz, in this example, apart from each other, and can be easily derived from a monochromatic pump with an ordinary EOM (electro-optic modulation) operating at half the FSR

frequency. With sufficient nonlinearity, an optical cascade process will convert the two pump frequencies into a comb-like structure extending many FSRs around the carrier frequency. This has a demonstratively efficient frequency conversion of this type with only a few milliwatt optical pump power.

The concept of using Kerr nonlinearity in a resonator for non-degenerate wave mixing has been discussed before, but it was a common belief that this was a weak process requiring very high peak powers to be observable. It was not thought possible for this approach to compete with electro-optical modulators in CW applications, especially those at lower optical powers. By using the high-Q WGM resonators, the effective Kerr nonlinearity can be made so high that, using even weak seeding bands available from a conventional EOM, one can effectively multiply the optical sidebands, extending them into an otherwise inaccessible frequency range.

This work was done by Dmitry V. Strekalov and Nan Yu of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at under the Physical Sciences category. NPO-47322

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Optical Sidebands Multiplier (reference NPO-47322) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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