Microcomb-driven silicon photonic systems
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04579-3
Microcombs have sparked a surge of applications over the past decade, ranging from optical communications to metrology1-4. Despite their diverse deployment, most microcomb-based systems rely on a large amount of bulky elements and equipment to fulfil their desired functions, which is complicated, expensive and power consuming. By contrast, foundry-based silicon photonics (SiPh) has had remarkable success in providing versatile functionality in a scalable and low-cost manner5-7, but its available chip-based light sources lack the capacity for parallelization, which limits the scope of SiPh applications. Here we combine these two technologies by using a power-efficient and operationally simple aluminium-gallium-arsenide-on-insulator microcomb source to drive complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor SiPh engines. We present two important chip-scale photonic systems for optical data transmission and microwave photonics, respectively. A microcomb-based integrated photonic data link is demonstrated, based on a pulse-amplitude four-level modulation scheme with a two-terabit-per-second aggregate rate, and a highly reconfigurable microwave photonic filter with a high level of integration is constructed using a time-stretch approach. Such synergy of a microcomb and SiPh integrated components is an essential step towards the next generation of fully integrated photonic systems.