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In search of time crystalline behavior in Kerr optical frequency combs


In this invited article, we report the experimental demonstration of the simultaneous coherent locking of two independent lasers with arbitrary multi-FSR (free spectral range) frequency separation to a Kerr microcomb soliton, resulting in the creation of synthetic microcomb soliton crystals. Each of the two pumps is self-injection-locked to its neighboring microcavity mode and acts as an arbiter linking the microcomb to the cavity. We show that the beating of the two pumps creates a manifest discrete symmetry and that certain microcomb states generated in this pumping scheme spontaneously break this symmetry, thereby realizing \emph{dissipative} discrete time crystals. Apart from introducing a powerful platform leveraging advanced photonics for the creation and scientific exploration of various types of dissipative time crystals and their properties, our results constitute a decisive step towards the two-point locking of Kerr microcombs with moderate bandwidths much smaller than an octave which cannot be self-referenced through standard approaches such as the f-2f technique.

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