ABSTRACT: Optical modulators can have high modulation speed and broad bandwidth, while being compact. However, these optical modulators usually work for low-intensity light beams. Here we present an ultrafast, plasma-based optical modulator, which can directly modulate high-power lasers with intensity up to 10(16)?W?cm(-2) to produce an extremely broad spectrum with a fractional bandwidth over 100%, extending to the mid-infrared regime in the low-frequency side. This concept relies on two co-propagating laser pulses in a sub-millimetre-scale underdense plasma, where a drive laser pulse first excites an electron plasma wave in its wake while a following carrier laser pulse is modulated by the plasma wave. The laser and plasma parameters suitable for the modulator to work are based on numerical simulations.
Project description:Ultrashort intense optical pulses in the mid-infrared (mid-IR) region are very important for broad applications ranging from super-resolution spectroscopy to attosecond X-ray pulse generation and particle acceleration. However, currently, it is still difficult to produce few-cycle mid-IR pulses of relativistic intensities using standard optical techniques. Here, we propose and numerically demonstrate a novel scheme to produce these mid-IR pulses based on laser-driven plasma optical modulation. In this scheme, a plasma wake is first excited by an intense drive laser pulse in an underdense plasma, and a signal laser pulse initially at the same wavelength (1 micron) as that of the drive laser is subsequently injected into the plasma wake. The signal pulse is converted to a relativistic multi-millijoule near-single-cycle mid-IR pulse with a central wavelength of ~5 microns via frequency-downshifting, where the energy conversion efficiency is as high as approximately 30% when the drive and signal laser pulses are both at a few tens of millijoules at the beginning. Our scheme can be realized with terawatt-class kHz laser systems, which may bring new opportunities in high-field physics and ultrafast science.
Project description:Optical modulators were, are, and will continue to be the underpinning devices for optical transceivers at all levels of the optical networks. Recently, heterogeneously integrated silicon and lithium niobate (Si/LN) optical modulators have demonstrated attractive overall performance in terms of optical loss, drive voltage, and modulation bandwidth. However, due to the moderate Pockels coefficient of lithium niobate, the device length of the Si/LN modulator is still relatively long for low-drive-voltage operation. Here, we report a folded Si/LN Mach-Zehnder modulator consisting of meandering optical waveguides and meandering microwave transmission lines, whose device length is approximately two-fifths of the unfolded counterpart while maintaining the overall performance. The present devices feature a low half-wave voltage of 1.24 V, support data rates up to 128 gigabits per second, and show a device length of less than 9 mm.
Project description:A scheme to generate single-cycle laser pulses is presented based on photon deceleration in underdense plasmas. This robust and tunable process is ideally suited for lasers above critical power because it takes advantage of the relativistic self-focusing of these lasers and the nonlinear features of the plasma wake. The mechanism is demonstrated by particle-in-cell simulations in three and 2(1/2) dimensions, resulting in pulse shortening up to a factor of 4, thus making it feasible to generate few-femtosecond single-cycle pulses in the optical to IR domain with intensities I > 10(20) W/cm(2) by using present-day laser technology.
Project description:The coherent transmission technology using digital signal processing and advanced modulation formats, is bringing networks closer to the theoretical capacity limit of optical fibres, the Shannon limit. The in-phase/quadrature electro-optic modulator that encodes information on both the amplitude and the phase of light, is one of the underpinning devices for the coherent transmission technology. Ideally, such modulator should feature a low loss, low drive voltage, large bandwidth, low chirp and compact footprint. However, these requirements have been only met on separate occasions. Here, we demonstrate integrated thin-film lithium niobate in-phase/quadrature modulators that fulfil these requirements simultaneously. The presented devices exhibit greatly improved overall performance (half-wave voltage, bandwidth and optical loss) over traditional lithium niobate counterparts, and support modulation data rate up to 320 Gbit s-1. Our devices pave new routes for future high-speed, energy-efficient, and cost-effective communication networks.
Project description:Coherent short-wavelength radiation from laser-plasma interactions is of increasing interest in disciplines including ultrafast biomolecular imaging and attosecond physics. Using solid targets instead of atomic gases could enable the generation of coherent extreme ultraviolet radiation with higher energy and more energetic photons. Here we present the generation of extreme ultraviolet radiation through coherent high-harmonic generation from self-induced oscillatory flying mirrors--a new-generation mechanism established in a long underdense plasma on a solid target. Using a 30-fs, 100-TW Ti:sapphire laser, we obtain wavelengths as short as 4.9 nm for an optimized level of amplified spontaneous emission. Particle-in-cell simulations show that oscillatory flying electron nanosheets form in a long underdense plasma, and suggest that the high-harmonic generation is caused by reflection of the laser pulse from electron nanosheets. We expect this extreme ultraviolet radiation to be valuable in realizing a compact X-ray instrument for research in biomolecular imaging and attosecond physics.
Project description:Low-noise millimetre-wave signals are valuable for digital sampling systems, arbitrary waveform generation for ultra-wideband communications, and coherent radar systems. However, the phase noise of widely used conventional signal generators (SGs) will increase as the millimetre-wave frequency increases. Our goal has been to improve commercially available SGs so that they provide a low-phase-noise millimetre-wave signal with assistance from an electro-optics-modulator-based optical frequency comb (EOM-OFC). Here, we show that the phase noise can be greatly reduced by bridging the vast frequency difference between the gigahertz and terahertz ranges with an EOM-OFC. The EOM-OFC serves as a liaison that magnifies the phase noise of the SG. With the EOM-OFC used as a phase noise "booster" for a millimetre-wave signal, the phase noise of widely used SGs can be reduced at an arbitrary frequency f (6???f???72?GHz).
Project description:Sampling is the first step to convert an analogue optical signal into a digital electrical signal. The latter can be further processed and analysed by well-known electrical signal processing methods. Optical pulse sources like mode-locked lasers are commonly incorporated for all-optical sampling, but have several drawbacks. A novel approach for a simple all-optical sampling is to utilise the frequency-time coherence of each signal. The method is based on only using two coupled modulators driven with an electrical sine wave. Since no optical source is required, a simple integration in appropriate platforms, such as Silicon Photonics might be possible. The presented method grants all-optical sampling with electrically tunable bandwidth, repetition rate and time shift.
Project description:We demonstrate heterodyne mixing of a 94?GHz millimetre wave photonic signal, supplied by a Gunn diode oscillator, with coherent acoustic waves of frequency ~100?GHz, generated by pulsed laser excitation of a semiconductor surface. The mixing takes place in a millimetre wave Schottky diode, and the intermediate frequency electrical signal is in the 1-12?GHz range. The mixing process preserves all the spectral content in the acoustic signal that falls within the intermediate frequency bandwidth. Therefore this technique may find application in high-frequency acoustic spectroscopy measurements, exploiting the nanometre wavelength of sub-THz sound. The result also points the way to exploiting acoustoelectric effects in photonic devices working at sub-THz and THz frequencies, which could provide functionalities at these frequencies, e.g. acoustic wave filtering, that are currently in widespread use at lower (GHz) frequencies.
Project description:Extreme-ultravoilet (XUV) attosecond pulses with durations of a few tens of attosecond have been successfully applied for exploring ultrafast electron dynamics at the atomic scale. But their weak intensities limit the further application in demonstrating nonlinear responses of inner-shell electrons. Optical attosecond pulses will provide sufficient photon flux to initiate strong-field processes. Here we proposed a novel method to generate an ultra-intense isolated optical attosecond pulse through relativistic multi-cycle laser pulse interacting with a designed gas-foil target. The underdense gas target sharpens the multi-cycle laser pulse, producing a dense layer of relativistic electrons with a thickness of a few hundred nanometers. When the dense electron layer passes through an oblique foil, it emits single ultra-intense half-cycle attosecond pulse in the visible and ultraviolet spectral range. The emitted pulse has a peak intensity exceeding 1018?W/cm2 and full-width-half-maximum duration of 200 as. The peak power of this attosecond light source reaches 2 terawatt. The proposed method relaxes the single-cycle requirement on the driving pulse for isolated attosecond pulse generation and significantly boosts the peak power, thus it may open up the route to new experiments tracking the nonlinear response of inner-shell electrons as well as nonlinear attosecond phenomena investigation.
Project description:Wavelength-scale optical modulators are essential building blocks for future on-chip optical interconnects. Any modulator design is a trade-off between bandwidth, size and fabrication complexity, size being particularly important as it determines capacitance and actuation energy. Here, we demonstrate an interesting alternative that is only 3 ?m long, only uses silicon on insulator (SOI) material and accommodates several nanometres of optical bandwidth at 1550 nm. The device is based on a photonic crystal waveguide: by combining the refractive index shift with slow-light enhanced absorption induced by free-carrier injection, we achieve an operation bandwidth that significantly exceeds the shift of the bandedge. We compare a 3 ?m and an 80 ?m long modulator and surprisingly, the shorter device outperforms the longer one. Despite its small size, the device achieves an optical bandwidth as broad as 7 nm for an extinction ratio of 10 dB, and modulation times ranging between 500 ps and 100 ps.