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Optical Microresonator Stabilization Module – Creating Frequency Stabilized Lasers

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OPTIMISM (Optical Microresonator Stabilization Module – Creating Frequency Stabilized Lasers)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-10-31

The ability to precisely control the color of light is at the heart of most uses for lasers. Many breakthroughs were brought about by extremely precise laser technologies. The 2005 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for precision laser control, and this has enabled atomic clocks so accurate that the effects of gravity on time can be measured. But lasers with precise colors are critical for applications that affect everyone. They are one of the core technologies enabling the autonomous vehicle revolution as well as the backbone of high data capacity telecommunications.

However, there is a challenge with lasers yet to overcome. It is difficult to make their colors pure enough as needed for many precision applications. The OPTIMISM project addresses this need by providing compact optical microresonator based on optical filters and optical reference cavities. These devices can be used to precisely filter the color of laser light or to perform advanced color correction to create lasers with very precise colors. The project focused on the important wavelength of 1550nm, which created a compact crystalline optical microresonator reference cavity as well as a narrow band photonic-chip based optical microresonator filter. The project also had the goal of transferring this technology to the Swiss start-up company MicroR Systems.
The OPTIMISM project had the ambitious goal of both developing and transferring technology. During the course of the project, much effort was placed on increasing the technology readiness less of the systems as well as the business development necessary to help this technology go to market.

From a technical aspect, the project focused heavily on the optical packaging of both crystalline optical microresonators integrated on photonic-chips as well as silicon nitride based photonic chips. This work enabled compact fiber-coupled packages to be developed for both systems. The crystalline optical microresonator system was used to decrease the noise of a commercial laser system by more than a factor of 500. This will enable the route to highly compact and stable laser systems. The silicon nitride based optical microresonators were developed with narrowband filtering in mind and here a packaged system was developed with a passband of only 15 MHz. There are currently no optical filters on the market as narrow as this system. For both of these technologies, detailed business and market studies were performed to show that there is a path to market for the technology that the startup company MicroR Systems can develop.
The OPTIMISM project had several important demonstrations. It provided the first high-Q optical microresonator fiber-coupled package for use as an optical reference cavity. This technology was used to greatly enhance the purity of a commercial laser by more than 500 times. Such technology will have a large range of applications such as for quantum technology. Quantum technology will be a disruptive technology in many sectors and one of the core subcomponents needed is compact laser systems with pure colors. Here the results of the OPTIMISM project can have far-reaching impacts for example.

The ultra-narrow filter developed based on the silicon-nitride optical microresonators is 2 to 3 times narrower than technology currently on the market. It can be highly integrated with other photonic technologies and is well suited for a range of applications such as telecommunications and autonomous vehicles. The OPTIMISM project further focused on the economic impact of developing a viable product for the Swiss startup company MicroR Systems. The OPTIMISM project ha ssuccessfully achieved all these objectives.
Packaged Optical Microresonator