+44 (0)24 7671 8970
More publications     •     Advertise with us     •     Contact us
News Article

Electron microscopy used to study nonlinear optics in photonic chip


Image credit: Yang et al. DOI: 10.1126/science.adk2489

A team of researchers at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences has investigated the interactions between light waves trapped in a chip and a beam of electrons from a transmission electron microscope (TEM), a type of microscope that uses electrons for imaging instead of light. The study, published in the journal Science, could offer new ways of probing nonlinear optics on a tiny scale, and of manipulating particles with photonic chips.

Nonlinear optics is integral to technological and scientific advances, from laser development and optical frequency metrology to gravitational wave astronomy and quantum information science. In addition, recent years have seen nonlinear optics applied in optical signal processing, telecommunications, sensing, spectroscopy, and light detection and ranging. All these applications involve the miniaturisation of devices that manipulate light in nonlinear ways on a small chip, enabling complex light interactions.

At the heart of the new study, which was led by Professor Tobias Kippenberg at EPFL and Professor Claus Ropers, director of the Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences, are “Kerr solitons”. These are waves of light that hold their shape and energy as they move through a material, like a perfectly formed surf wave travelling across the ocean. In particular, the researchers used “dissipative” Kerr solitons, which are stable, localised pulses of light that last tens of femtoseconds and form spontaneously in the microresonator. Dissipative Kerr solitons can also interact with electrons, which made them crucial for this study.

The scientists formed dissipative Kerr solitons inside a photonic microresonator, a tiny chip that traps and circulates light inside a reflective cavity, creating the perfect conditions for these waves. “We generated various nonlinear spatiotemporal light patterns in the microresonator driven by a continuous-wave laser,” explains EPFL researcher Yujia Yang. “These light patterns interacted with a beam of electrons passing by the photonic chip, and left fingerprints in the electron spectrum.”

Specifically, the approach demonstrated the coupling between free electrons and dissipative Kerr solitons, which allowed the researchers to probe soliton dynamics in the microresonator cavity and perform ultrafast modulation of electron beams.

“Our ability to generate dissipative Kerr solitons [DKS] in a TEM extends the use of microresonator-base frequency combs to unexplored territories,” says Kippenberg. “The electron-DKS interaction could enable high repetition-rate ultrafast electron microscopy and particle accelerators empowered by a small photonic chip.”

Ropers adds: “Our results show electron microscopy could be a powerful technique for probing nonlinear optical dynamics at the nanoscale. This technique is non-invasive and able to directly access the intracavity field, key to understanding nonlinear optical physics and developing nonlinear photonic devices.”

Electron microscopy used to study nonlinear optics in photonic chip
BluGlass completes its acquisition of GaNWorks Foundry
Ayar Labs announces additions to leadership team
ANELLO Photonics launches new 3-axis optical gyroscope
SIP Global Partners invests in Lightmatter
SiLC launches Eyeonic Mini machine vision system
Aeva introduces new 4D LiDAR sensor for automotive applications
Bimetallic all-optical switch could lead to faster computer processors
POET and ZKTel collaborate on optical transceivers
Aeva selected to supply LiDAR to global automotive OEM
PhotonDelta announces Eelko Brinkhoff to take over as CEO
Lightmatter announces $155 million of additional investment
VitreaLab receives investment from PhotonVentures for AR laser technology
Chipscale laser emits precise light in both NIR and visible
Neurophos raises $7.2 million for metamaterial-based optical AI chips
Coherent introduces 800G transceiver in ultracompact form factors
Rockley Photonics begins sampling photonics-based wearable
Polaris Electro-Optics wins seed investment of $3 million
BluGlass enters contract as part of Microelectronics Commons’ CLAWS Hub
H3C and Spirent complete 800G test
Brilliance receives €2 million funding for augmented reality lasers
Sivers partners with LioniX and Chilas on tuneable 1310-nm laser
Record-long storage of entangled telecom-wavelength photons
Photonic chip calculates how light can evade obstacles
Photonic chip built with new lego-like integration technique
Corrugated micro-ring generates specific wavelengths of light
Baraja releases integrated components for its Spectrum-Scan LiDAR
Spirox and Southport launch non-destructive wafer defect inspection system
Aeluma wins US Navy funding for photodetectors
A toolbox for photonic quantum computing
From transceivers to speed-of-light AI
ECOC 2023 explores the future of photonics

Search the news archive

To close this popup you can press escape or click the close icon.
Register - Step 1

You may choose to subscribe to the PIC Magazine, the PIC Newsletter, or both. You may also request additional information if required, before submitting your application.

Please subscribe me to:


You chose the industry type of "Other"

Please enter the industry that you work in:
Please enter the industry that you work in: