Laboratory Featured Article
High-order nonlinear light-matter interactions in gases enable the generation of X-ray and attosecond light pulses, metrology and spectroscopy 1. Optical nonlinearities in solid-state materials are particularly interesting for combining optical and electronic functions for high-bandwidth information processing 2. Third-order nonlinear optical processes in silicon have been used to process optical signals with bandwidths greater than 1 GHz (ref. 2). However, fundamental physical processes for a silicon-based optical modulator in the terahertz bandwidth range have not yet beeen explored. Here, we deomonstrate ultrafast phononic modulation of the optical index of silicon by irradiation with intense few-cycle femtosecond pulses. The anisotropic reflectivity modulation by the resonant Raman susceptibility at the fundamental frequency of the longitudinal optical phonon of silicon (15.6 THz) generates a frequency comb up to seventh order. All-optical >100 THz frequency comb generation is realized by harnessing the coherent atomic motion of the silicon crystalline lattice at its highest mechanical frequency.
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Frequency comb observed in the Fourier transform spectrum
Former Graduate Student Yanan Dai receives International Chinese Physicist Award for his research on ultrafast microscopy.