Research ArticleOPTICS

A broadband chip-scale optical frequency synthesizer at 2.7 × 10−16 relative uncertainty

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Science Advances  22 Apr 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 4, e1501489
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501489


Optical frequency combs—coherent light sources that connect optical frequencies with microwave oscillations—have become the enabling tool for precision spectroscopy, optical clockwork, and attosecond physics over the past decades. Current benchmark systems are self-referenced femtosecond mode-locked lasers, but Kerr nonlinear dynamics in high-Q solid-state microresonators has recently demonstrated promising features as alternative platforms. The advance not only fosters studies of chip-scale frequency metrology but also extends the realm of optical frequency combs. We report the full stabilization of chip-scale optical frequency combs. The microcomb’s two degrees of freedom, one of the comb lines and the native 18-GHz comb spacing, are simultaneously phase-locked to known optical and microwave references. Active comb spacing stabilization improves long-term stability by six orders of magnitude, reaching a record instrument-limited residual instability of Embedded Image. Comparing 46 nitride frequency comb lines with a fiber laser frequency comb, we demonstrate the unprecedented microcomb tooth-to-tooth relative frequency uncertainty down to 50 mHz and 2.7 × 10−16, heralding novel solid-state applications in precision spectroscopy, coherent communications, and astronomical spectrography.

  • Optical frequency comb
  • chip-scale
  • precision spectroscopy
  • coherent communications
  • astronomical spectrography

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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