Real-Time Measurements of Photonic Microchips with Femtometer-Scale Spectral Precision and Ultrahigh Sensitivity

Mahdi Mozdoor Dashtabi*, Mohammad Talebi Khoshmehr, Hamed Nikbakht, Bruno Lopez Rodriguez, Naresh Sharma, Iman Esmaeil Zadeh, B. Imran Akca*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Photonic integrated circuits (PICs) are enabling breakthroughs in several areas, including quantum computing, neuromorphic processors, wearable devices, and more. Nevertheless, existing PIC measurement methods lack the spectral precision, speed, and sensitivity required for refining current applications and exploring new frontiers such as point-of-care or wearable biosensors. Here, the “sweeping optical frequency mixing method (SOHO)” is presented, surpassing traditional PIC measurement methods with real-time operation, 30 dB higher sensitivity, and over 100 times better spectral resolution. Leveraging the frequency mixing process with a sweeping laser, SOHO excels in simplicity, eliminating the need for advanced optical components and additional calibration procedures. Its superior performance is demonstrated on ultrahigh-quality factor (Q) fiber-loop resonators (Q = 46 × 106), as well as microresonators, realized on a new optical waveguide platform. An experimental spectral resolution of 19.1 femtometers is demonstrated using an 85-meter-long unbalanced fiber Mach Zehnder Interferometer, constrained by noise resulting from the extended fiber length, while the theoretical resolution is calculated to be 6.2 femtometers, limited by the linewidth of the reference laser. With its excellent performance metrics, SOHO has the potential to become a vital measurement tool in photonics, excelling in high-speed and high-resolution measurements of weak optical signals.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalLaser and Photonics Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • frequency mixing
  • photonic integrated circuits
  • real-time
  • sweeping laser


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