We are proposing Kerr-soliton On-chip Microcombs with Optimized Dispersion for Octave-spanning Output (KOMODO). The KOMODO platform will be a chip-scale optical frequency comb compatible with compact, deployable, next-generation optical atomic clocks and quantum sensors. Our proposed solution brings together engineered nano-scale waveguides, precision laser stabilization techniques, and advanced photonic packaging to realize true chip-integrated comb sources for demanding terrestrial and space-based applications in timing, spectroscopy, and quantum sensing. The project will translate directly into a commercial device that will provide a stabilized broadband frequency-comb output with low size, weight, and power (SWaP) requirements.
Frequency combs are extremely stable multi-wavelength laser systems that provide a coherent link between the optical and microwave domains. Octave-spanning combs are essential for modern atomic timekeeping, where the comb is required to read out an optical atomic clock laser. The current state-of-the-art in compact frequency combs are fiber-based mode-locked lasers. While such systems have been instrumental in starting the transition of frequency combs outside of the laboratory, the SWaP requirements are still incompatible with many uses, especially space-based applications.
In contrast, microcombs offer a path towards reducing the SWaP of these systems by an order of magnitude, opening possibilities for the integration of combs into hand-held devices and low-power spacecraft. The proposed KOMODO platform represents a new paradigm for fully stabilized microresonator frequency combs with low SWaP. We will achieve this by improving the TRL of four key technologies in this program: 1) turn-key comb generation with hybrid-integrated pump lasers, 2) advanced dispersion control through engineered photonic-crystal ring resonators, 3) self-referenced microcomb stabilization, and 4) environmentally robust photonic packaging.
The development of octave-spanning microcombs addresses needs for stable and broadband frequency references with low size, weight, and power in NASA focus areas including precision timing, navigation, geodesy, LiDAR, atmospheric spectroscopy, and precision-radial-velocity measurements. Our Phase 2 demonstration of a fully stabilized packaged microcomb in an optical clock system will directly address the critical technology gap with low-SWaP components for atomic sensors and clocks suitable for space-based operation.
Compact chip-scale frequency combs have broad applications outside NASA interests including low-noise microwave generation, optical frequency synthesis, optical coherence tomography, single photon and entangled state generation, and optical communications. KOMODO will provide a general-purpose solution for these uses by offering broadband and stabilized combs in a robust turn-key package.