Research ArticleOPTICS

Parity-time–symmetric optoelectronic oscillator

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  08 Jun 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 6, eaar6782
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar6782


An optoelectronic oscillator (OEO) is a hybrid microwave and photonic system incorporating an amplified positive feedback loop to enable microwave oscillation to generate a high-frequency and low–phase noise microwave signal. The low phase noise is ensured by the high Q factor of the feedback loop enabled by the use of a long and low-loss optical fiber. However, an OEO with a long fiber loop would have a small free spectral range, leading to a large number of closely spaced oscillation modes. To ensure single-mode oscillation, an ultranarrowband optical filter must be used, but such an optical filter is hard to implement and the stability is poor. Here, we use a novel concept to achieve single-mode oscillation without using an ultranarrowband optical filter. The single-mode operation is achieved based on parity-time (PT) symmetry by using two identical feedback loops, with one having a gain and the other having a loss of the same magnitude. The operation is analyzed theoretically and verified by an experiment. Stable single-mode oscillation at an ultralow phase noise is achieved without the use of an ultranarrowband optical filter. The use of PT symmetry in an OEO overcomes the long-existing mode-selection challenge that would greatly simplify the implementation of OEOs for ultralow–phase noise microwave generation.

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.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances