In this work, we investigate the properties of four-wave mixing Bragg scattering driven by orthogonally polarized pumps in a birefringent waveguide. This configuration enables a large signal conversion bandwidth, and allows strongly unidirectional frequency conversion as undesired Bragg-scattering processes are suppressed by waveguide birefringence. Moreover, we show that this form of Bragg scattering preserves the (arbitrary) signal pulse shape, even when driven by pulsed pumps.
© 2018 Optical Society of America under the terms of the OSA Open Access Publishing Agreement
All-optical nonlinear signal processing has opened new doors within information processing and optical communication . By utilizing the third-order nonlinearity in optical fibers or integrated waveguides, signal processing tasks such as amplification [2,3], regeneration [4,5], nonlinearity mitigation [6, 7], and data-format conversion , have all been demonstrated. The common workhorse enabling these operations is four-wave mixing (FWM), which comes in different flavors depending on the required capability.
One particular method of all-optical nonlinear signal processing is FWM Bragg scattering (BS), in which an input signal (s) is up- or downshifted to an output signal (r) by the frequency difference between two pump lasers (p and q), as illustrated in Figs. 1(a) and (b). In contrast to FWM processes such as parametric amplification and phase conjugation, which are inherently noisy, BS enables full conversion of an input signal without adding noise . For this reason, BS has attracted attention in quantum photonics as it allows signal processing of single- or few-photon level signals [10–13]. This could be useful in quantum communications for shifting quantum signals between telecom wavelengths, where the transmission loss in optical fibers is lowest, and visible wavelengths, where superior detectors, quantum memories, or single-photon sources are likely to operate [12, 14–17]. Shifting single photons between wavelength channels could be used for routing signals across quantum networks, or for quantum information processing with frequency encoding schemes [18–20]. Similarly, BS has applications in classical communications and fast all-optical signal processing [21–24].
One practical challenge in BS is that of frequency unidirectionality. As BS allows both up- and downconversion, only one of these processes should be phase matched at a time. If this is not the case, part of the signal power is up-shifted and part is down-shifted [15, 24–27]. This bidirectionality (r(1)) is illustrated in Fig. 1(c), which also shows the potential of cascaded conversion in the same direction (r(2)). In order to achieve a high conversion efficiency (CE), these undesired processes must be suppressed by designing them to have large phase mismatches.
Another, yet unresolved, challenge in the framework of BS is that of achieving shape-independent and shape-preserving frequency conversion when the process is driven by short pump pulses. Intuitively, the use of pulsed pumps rather than continuous-wave (CW) pumps is advantageous in the sense that far lower average pump powers are required to achieve efficient conversion. However, in the setting of pulsed pumps, the nonlinear interaction strength varies in time, making the attainable CE strongly dependent on the temporal mode of the input signal [18,28,29].
In this work, we seek solutions to these challenges by investigating a scheme for BS where the two pump pulses are polarized on orthogonal axes of a nonlinear birefringent waveguide, or as recently demonstrated, propagate in different spatial modes of a higher-order mode fiber [30,31]. We show that this configuration allows highly unidirectional frequency conversion with the conversion direction being controlled by the polarization of the input signal. Furthermore, the configuration enables conversion of high-bandwidth signals, and preserves the signal temporal shape even when driven by short pump pulses. Additionally, in contrast to the standard BS configuration, where the fields must be centered symmetrically around a waveguide zero-dispersion frequency (ZDF), this new scheme allows phase matching to be achieved in both the normal- or the anomalous dispersion regime.
2. Standard configuration
2.1. Phase matching and bandwidth
First, we discuss the standard configuration for BS, where all the fields are co-polarized, and are centered around a ZDF . We label the input signal s, the output r, and the pumps p and q, as shown in Fig. 1. The phase mismatch for the down-shifting case [Figs. 1(a) and (b)], is given byEq. (1). Such placement of the fields furthermore leads to group-velocity matching of s to p, and of r to q, as can be seen from the group slowness Fig 1(a). In a waveguide of length L, efficient conversion occurs for |ΔβL| ≪ 1, resulting in the following condition for the two-sided signal bandwidth Ωs
2.2. Unidirectionality of the standard configuration
Consider now the influence of spurious BS processes, which are sketched in Fig. 1(c). These processes must be well suppressed in order to obtain a high CE in the desired direction . To quantify this, we consider the configuration for desired down-shifting from s to r. When the desired process is perfectly wavenumber matched, the wavenumber mismatch for the spurious up-shifting process, s to r(1), is given byEqs. (7) and (8)] with the attainable BS bandwidth [Eq. (5)], one finds that unidirectional operation is only possible for a signal bandwidth that is much smaller than the frequency shift, i.e. δω ≫ Ωs. This could be detrimental to applications of frequency conversion for dense wavelength division multiplexing systems, where the channel separation is comparable to the bandwidth of each channel, and where spurious BS could lead to unintended interference with other channels.
The effect of the wavenumber mismatches given in Eqs. (7) and (8), is quantified by solving the coupled-mode equations for the BS process, including multiple signal modes (for details, see Appendix A). Figure 2(a) shows the highest attainable CE as a function of the dimensionless product Θmis = β3Δωδω2L, for desired down-conversionsee [see Fig. 1(c)]. The pump power (which is CW and balanced, Pp = Pq) is in all cases chosen such that a CE of unity is obtained without the inclusion of the undesired Bragg-scattering modes, r(n) (i.e. 2γPpL = π/2). For values Θmis > 50, the attainable CE is near unity as undesired Bragg scattering processes are strongly suppressed by the large wavenumber mismatches given in Eqs. (7) and (8). However, for small values of the dimensionless product, the CE is limited to far below unity as a result of significant coupling to undesired signal modes. Furthermore, the CE-curve features small, and decaying, oscillations that arise due to the dynamical interaction between the multiple signal modes, as shown in Figs. 2(b) and (c). As a consequence of the quadratic dependence of Θmis on δω, small frequency shifts are particular difficult to achieve in a unidirectional fashion. As an example, for a 100-m long optical fiber with a third-order-dispersion coefficient of β3 = 1 ps3/km, a frequency shift of δω = 2 THz with the pumps placed Δω = 20 THz from the signals, yields Θmis = 8. That is, according to Fig. 2, the frequency conversion process is far from unidirectional. This bidirectionality is an even larger hurdle in integrated waveguides, for which the length is limited to the order of centimeters, something which has been observed by multiple research groups in recent years [25–27]. Recently, however, it was demonstrated that the bidirectionality could be alleviated by exploiting birefringence , and in the following, we improve upon this concept by taking a closer look at the cross-polarized BS configuration.
3. Cross-polarized configuration
3.1. Phase matching and bandwidth
To address the problems encountered with the standard configuration, we now consider an alternative setup where the two pumps are polarized on orthogonal axes of a birefringent nonlinear waveguide. The nonlinear waveguide is assumed to consist of a material for which the third-order susceptibility tensor takes the form , where the indices i, j, k, l refer to the polarization state of an electric field and δ is the Kroenecker delta function. This form of the third-order susceptibility tensor encapsulates the properties of, for example, a silica fiber or a silicon waveguide, and entails that the converted output signal is polarized orthogonally to the input signal, as shown in Fig. 3(a).
We consider the case where the involved fields are placed far from the waveguide ZDF, resulting in a non-zero group-velocity dispersion β2, which may be either negative or positive. The group-velocity dispersion is assumed to dominate over higher-order dispersion terms, and is assumed identical for the principle axes of the birefringent waveguide. Expanding the wavenumber around the average frequency ωav, the wavenumbers for the two principle axes are given asEq. (9) that the cross-polarized BS process is wavenumber matched, i.e. Δβ = 0, whenever ωq − ωp = Δβ1/β2, where Δβ1 ≡ β1+ − β1− > 0. Notably, the process occurs, exactly as does vector-modulation instability in birefringent waveguides, for both normal (β2 > 0) and anomalous (β2 < 0) dispersion [36,37]. By our convention one must choose ωq > ωp for normal dispersion, and ωq < ωp in the case of anomalous dispersion.
Remarkably, in complete contrast to the standard configuration, which allows perfect phase matching only for one specific signal frequency, the cross-polarized process is wavenumber matched independently of the signal frequency, provided the frequency separation between the pumps is chosen judiciously to Δβ1/β2. Moreover, the direction of the frequency shift is determined by the polarization of the input signal as sketched in Fig. 3(b). More specifically, if we let the input signal be polarized along the fast axis, we find ωr = ωs − Δβ1/β2 resulting in a down-shift (an up-shift) for normal (anomalous) dispersion, while if the input signal is polarized along the slow axis, we obtain ωr = ωs + Δβ1/β2 giving rise to an up-shift (a down-shift) for normal (anomalous) dispersion.
The phase-matching condition of the cross-polarized BS process furthermore leads to pairwise group-velocity matching of the pumps (p to q), and the signals (s to r), as can be seen by insertion of the shift δω = Δβ1/β2 into38–40], and we consider its implications in more details in Sec. 4.
3.2. Unidirectionality of the cross-polarized configuration
As for the standard configuration, we now consider the effect of spurious BS. The wavenumber mismatch of this process [s to r(1) in Fig. 3(c)], can be written asFig. 3(c)], requires Eq. (12) only by the sign in front of the frequency shift δω. Noteworthy, in the cross-polarized configuration, the wavenumber mismatches of the undesired BS process contain one term inversely proportional to the beat length LB, and another term proportional to the difference in inverse group velocity Δβ1. For standard birefringent fibers with beat lengths on the order of 1–10 mm , the first term is typically orders of magnitudes larger than the second term for which Δβ1 ≈ 1 ps/m (and Δω ≈ 5–20 THz) [31,37]. This is also the case in integrated birefringent waveguides, where the beat length can readily be made smaller than hundreds of micrometer at optical wavelengths [42,43]. Hence, the condition for suppressing spurious BS effectively becomes identical to the condition for preventing polarization-mode coupling, which is exactly the primary ability of these kinds of birefringent waveguides.
4. Shape-preserving frequency conversion
The use of pulsed, rather than CW, pumps, entails the need for far smaller average pump-power levels. However, this also significantly complicates the spatial-temporal dynamics, and requires careful synchronization of the interacting fields. Moreover, the use of pulsed pumps typically prevents optimal signal CE for more than a single (or few) temporal shape(s), and results in a significantly altered temporal shape of the converted signal . In the following, we show that the cross-polarized BS configuration, which was introduced in Sec. 3, allows preservation of the signal temporal shape and, moreover, enables shape-independent frequency conversion.
4.1. Pump dynamics
Let us start by considering the pump dynamics. In our configuration, phase matching dictates co-propagating pumps (β1p = β1q = β̄) and co-propagating signals (β1s = β1r). The undepleted coupled pump equations take the formEqs. (14) and (15), the terms describing cross-phase modulation contain factors of 2/3, representing the case of orthogonally polarized fields in an isotropic material such as fused silica. This factor may be different if one considers the BS process using higher-order spatial modes [30,31], or in a material with an anisotropic Kerr nonlinearity such as crystalline silicon . We stress, however, that what follows does not depend on the value of this prefactor.
Optimal conversion in the third-order Kerr nonlinearity occurs when the two pump pulses are temporally matched, and we therefore consider the case where the initial pump pulses obey Ap0(0, t) = Aq0(0, t). With this initial condition, the pump powers are balanced, which optimizes the nonlinear interaction per total amount of pump power, and the solution to the pump evolution becomesEq. (16) accounts for both self- and cross-phase modulation, which contribute in the same manner as the pump pulses are group-velocity matched.
4.2. Signal dynamics
Consider now the Heisenberg-picture coupled-mode equations for the signal-mode operators. In the signal reference frame, so that now β̄ = β1p − β1s, we haveEq. (17) is solved by  Eq. (21) encompasses the combined effects of cross-phase modulation from the two pump pulses, whereas the matrix describes the time-dependent beam-splitter-like transformation, which is typical for nonlinear frequency-conversion processes . As is apparent from Eq. (22), the CE efficiency of a time slice tk depends on the interaction strength experienced by that time slice according to sin2[ξ(tk)]. Therefore, in general, the converted signal is a distorted version of the input signal. However, if the input signal experiences a complete temporal collision with the pumps (a complete walk-off), then the CE is time-independent (CW-like), and the signal shape is preserved. Remarkably, this shape-preserving property, which is unique to our configuration, holds for both arbitrary input signal- and pump shapes.
4.3. Examples with Gaussian pumps
We now consider a few examples, and, for simplicity, consider Gaussian-shaped input pump pulses of the formEq. (23), one can readily show that Eq. (22) takes the explicit form
Figure 4 illustrates the conversion dynamics in the case of ζ = 2 for two different signal input pulse shapes: (a) a Gaussian input, and (b) a first-order Hermite-Gaussian input. The interaction strength is chosen such that the center of the signal, i.e. t = 0, is fully converted as illustrated with the transfer functions in Figs. 4(c) and (d). However, a value of ζ = 2 only allows for a moderate degree of walk-off, resulting in a temporally localized conversion as shown in Figs. 4(e) and (f) for the remaining s-output and converted r-output, respectively. Notably, as the Hermite-Gaussian input signal contains only a small part of its energy around the pulse center, the total CE is only 53% compared to 85% for the Gaussian input signal. Moreover, the converted signal is temporally narrower than the input signal, but is spectrally broadened due to the chirp received as a result of cross-phase modulation from the pumps.
The case of ζ = 8 is shown in Fig. 5, using the same input signal pulses as in Fig. 4. Now the walk-off allows a full pump-signal collision, giving rise to transfer functions that are approximately constant within the signal duration, as seen in Figs. 5(c) and (d). This results in CEs of practically unity for both the Gaussian and the first-order Hermite Gaussian input signals, demonstrating that the configuration enables conversion of arbitrary temporal shapes with high efficiency. Moreover, irrespective of the signal input shape, this temporal shape is preserved in the frequency conversion process, as seen from Fig. 5(f).
Finally, it is highly instructive to make a comparison between the proposed pulsed scheme and the corresponding CW pumped configuration. In the CW pumped regime, the CE is simply determined by the product γPcwL. On the other hand, when employing pulsed pumps, the conversion process typically becomes complicated, resulting in the CE being strongly dependent on the exact temporal shape, and timing, of the input signal. However, in this configuration, when the pumps are allowed to completely ‘scan’ through the signal, which somewhat alleviates the synchronization requirements between the pumps and the signal, the CE [see Eqs. (21) and (24)] becomes time-independent. Thus, one can think of this configuration as being quasi CW-like, with a conversion efficiency being determined solely by the interaction strength γEβ̄. Hence, in comparison to the CW case, the power-length product PcwL is replaced by E/β̄. Thereby, to maintain a given CE moving from the CW regime to the pulsed regime, the peak power should merely satisfy Pp = E/(π1/2τ) = Pcwβ̄L/(π1/2τ) ≈ 5Pcw, where we have used that ζ ≈ 8 for a full collision with comparable signal and pump durations (see Fig. 5).
In recent years, there have been proposals for using BS to perform all-optical switching and logic operations [22, 23]. The cross-polarized configuration adds an extra degree of freedom: polarization, and allows parallel operation of both polarization modes, which in the process are converted in opposite directions. Moreover, this scheme bears potential for enabling very large signal-conversion bandwidths as described in Sec. 3.1, where we assumed a simple waveguide-dispersion profile with polarization-independent group-velocity dispersion. Although this can be the design target, in practice, the waveguide dispersion is only approximately described by Eq. (9), and one may need to include a polarization-dependent group-velocity dispersion (β2±). A more detailed treatment, which includes this effect, results in the frequency shift being given by δω = Δβ1/β2,av, with β2,av = (β2+ + β2−)/2. Moreover, this gives a signal bandwidth that scales as [(Δω/2 + δω) Δβ2L]−1, where, as previously, Δω = |(ωp + ωq)/2 − (ωs + ωr)/2|, and Δβ2 = β2+ − β2−. Notably, the signal bandwidth scales inversely with Δβ2, which underpins the possibility for attaining ultra-high conversion bandwidth by careful dispersion tailoring. One also finds, that the inclusion of a polarization-dependent group-velocity dispersion opens the possibility for fine-tuning the frequency shift δω simply by tuning the pump frequencies. Such tunability was not predicted by the simpler model neglecting polarization-dependent dispersion.
Finally, it is worth noticing that the cross-polarized BS process is designed to occur when the fields are placed far away from a waveguide ZDF. For this reason, the considered process is, in comparison to the standard BS configuration, to a lesser degree accompanied by other parasitic nonlinear processes such as parametric amplification. This is especially the case if the process is operated in the normal dispersion regime, for which scalar modulation instability is strongly suppressed. Moreover, spontaneous Raman scattering can, to a large extent, be avoided by cooling the nonlinear fiber and by placing the pumps on the low-frequency side of the signals , or by using a crystalline material such as silicon.
We have investigated the properties of a four-wave mixing Bragg-scattering configuration, which employs cross polarized pumps in a birefringent nonlinear waveguide. Phase matching of this process, which can be achieved in both the anomalous or the normal dispersion regimes, occurs when the two pumps are placed in frequency such that they are group-velocity matched. The cross-polarized configuration has four distinct advantages compared to the standard co-polarized Bragg-scattering configuration: (i) It allows a large signal bandwidth, which is not limited by the size of the frequency shift, (ii) the direction of conversion (up or down) is controlled by the polarization of the input signal, (iii) conversion is entirely unidirectional as undesired Bragg-scattering processes are suppressed by waveguide birefringence, and (iv) the pairwise group-velocity matching (pump-to-pump and signal-to-signal) enables shape-preserving frequency conversion of an arbitrary signal input temporal waveform.
A. Coupled-mode equations with multi-level Bragg scattering
To model the standard co-polarized BS process including multiple signal modes we introduce multiple additional converted signal frequencies according to ωr(n) = ωs + δω(n + 1)/2 for n odd (up-converted fields), and ωr(n) = ωs − δω(n/2 + 1) for n even (down-converted fields), where δω = ωq − ωp > 0, [see also inset of Fig. 2(a)]. For each of these frequencies, the corresponding wavenumber is obtained from Eq. (2), resulting in the wavenumber mismatchesFig. 2, we included, for each value of Θmis, N additional fields so that negligible power transfer was observed to the most detuned fields, i.e. n = N − 1 and n = N.
DFF Sapere Aude Adv. Grant NANO-SPECs, DFF (4184-00433); DNRF Research Centre of Excellence, SPOC (DNRF123).
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