High-Q Si3N4 microresonators based on a subtractive processing for Kerr nonlinear optics
Journal article, 2019
Microresonator frequency combs (microcombs) are enabling new applications in frequency synthesis and metrology – from high-speed laser ranging to coherent optical communications. One critical parameter that dictates the performance of the microcomb is the optical quality factor (Q) of the microresonator. Microresonators fabricated in planar structures such as silicon nitride (Si3N4) allow for dispersion engineering and the possibility to monolithically integrate the microcomb with other photonic devices. However, the relatively large refractive index contrast and the tight optical confinement required for dispersion engineering make it challenging to attain Si3N4 microresonators with Qs > 107 using standard subtractive processing methods – i.e. photonic devices are patterned directly on the as-deposited Si3N4 film. In this work, we achieve ultra-smooth Si3N4 microresonators featuring mean intrinsic Qs around 11 million. The cross-section geometry can be precisely engineered in the telecommunications band to achieve either normal or anomalous dispersion, and we demonstrate the generation of mode-locked dark-pulse Kerr combs as well as soliton microcombs. Such high-Qs allow us to generate 100 GHz soliton microcombs, demonstrated here for the first time in Si3N4 microresonators fabricated using a subtractive processing method. These results enhance the possibilities for co-integration of microcombs with high-performance photonic devices, such as narrow-linewidth external-cavity diode lasers, ultra-narrow filters and demultiplexers.