For those not in the know, boffins have been clustered around lithium niobate photonic circuits for a while trying to get them to work better. They have tried improvements such as frequency combs to frequency converters and modulators. But lasers, which are needed for long haul telecommunication networks, data centre optical interconnects, and microwave photonic systems have refused to work with the new tech.
This is because lasers are stand-alone devices, external to the modulators, making the whole system more expensve and less stable and scalable.
Now, boffins from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) in collaboration with industry partners at Freedom Photonics and HyperLight Corporation, have developed the first fully integrated high-power laser on a lithium niobate chip, paving the way for high-powered telecommunication systems, fully integrated spectrometers, optical remote sensing, and efficient frequency conversion for quantum networks, among other applications.
The study said that integrating high-performance plug-and-play lasers would significantly reduce the cost, complexity, and power consumption of future communication systems.
"It's a building block that can be integrated into larger optical systems for a range of applications, in sensing, lidar, and data telecommunications." By combining thin-film lithium niobate devices with high-power lasers using an industry-friendly process, this research represents a key step towards large-scale, low-cost, and high-performance transmitter arrays and optical networks.”