We report the generation of an optical-frequency comb in the midinfrared region with 1-GHz comb-line spacing and no offset with respect to absolute-zero frequency. This comb is tunable from 2.5 to 4.2 μm and covers a critical spectral region for important environmental and industrial applications, such as molecular spectroscopy of trace gases. We obtain such a comb using a highly efficient frequency conversion of a near-infrared frequency comb. The latter is based on a compact diode-pumped semiconductor saturable absorber mirror–mode-locked ytterbium-doped calcium-aluminum gadolynate (Yb:CALGO) laser operating at 1 μm. The frequency-conversion process is based on optical parametric amplification (OPA) in a periodically poled lithium niobate (PPLN) chip containing buried waveguides fabricated by reverse proton exchange. The laser with a repetition rate of 1 GHz is the only active element of the system. It provides the pump pulses for the OPA process as well as seed photons in the range of 1.4–1.8 μm via supercontinuum generation in a silicon-nitride (Si3N4) waveguide. Both the PPLN and Si3N4 waveguides represent particularly suitable platforms for low-energy nonlinear interactions; they allow for mid-IR comb powers per comb line at the microwatt level and signal amplification levels up to 35 dB, with 2 orders of magnitude less pulse energy than reported in OPA systems using bulk devices. Based on numerical simulations, we explain how high amplification can be achieved at low energy using the interplay between mode confinement and a favorable group-velocity mismatch configuration where the mid-IR pulse moves at the same velocity as the pump.
|Mayer PRA2016||2.24 MB|