Parity-Time Synthetic Laser

Liang Feng, Zi Jing Wong, Renmin Ma, Yuan Wang, Xiang Zhang

Parity-time (PT) symmetry is a fundamental notion in quantum field theories1,2. It has opened a new paradigm for non-Hermitian Hamiltonians ranging from quantum mechanics, electronics, to optics. In the realm of optics, optical loss is responsible for power dissipation, therefore typically degrading device performance such as attenuation of a laser beam. By carefully exploiting optical loss in the complex dielectric permittivity, however, recent exploration of PT symmetry revolutionizes our understandings in fundamental physics and intriguing optical phenomena such as exceptional points and phase transition that are critical for high-speed optical modulators3-9. The interplay between optical gain and loss in photonic PT synthetic matters offers a new criterion of positively utilizing loss to efficiently manipulate gain and its associated optical properties10-19. Instead of simply compensating optical loss in conventional lasers, for example, it is theoretically proposed that judiciously designed delicate modulation of optical loss and gain can lead to PT synthetic lasing20,21 that fundamentally broadens laser physics. Here, we report the first experimental demonstration of PT synthetic lasers. By carefully exploiting the interplay between gain and loss, we achieve degenerate eigen modes at the same frequency but with complex conjugate gain and loss coefficients. In contrast to conventional ring cavity lasers with multiple modes, the PT synthetic micro-ring laser exhibits an intrinsic single mode lasing: the non-threshold PT broken phase inherently associated in such a photonic system squeezes broadband optical gain into a single lasing mode regardless of the gain spectral bandwidth. This chip-scale semiconductor platform provides a unique route towards fundamental explorations of PT physics and next generation of optoelectronic devices for optical communications and computing.
Optics (physics.optics)

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