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Optomechanical dissipative solitons
Nature  (IF49.962),  Pub Date : 2021-12-01, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04012-1
Jing Zhang, Bo Peng, Seunghwi Kim, Faraz Monifi, Xuefeng Jiang, Yihang Li, Peng Yu, Lianqing Liu, Yu-xi Liu, Andrea Alù, Lan Yang

Nonlinear wave–matter interactions may give rise to solitons, phenomena that feature inherent stability in wave propagation and unusual spectral characteristics. Solitons have been created in a variety of physical systems and have had important roles in a broad range of applications, including communications, spectroscopy and metrology1,2,3,4. In recent years, the realization of dissipative Kerr optical solitons in microcavities has led to the generation of frequency combs in a chip-scale platform5,6,7,8,9,10. Within a cavity, photons can interact with mechanical modes. Cavity optomechanics has found applications for frequency conversion, such as microwave-to-optical or radio-frequency-to-optical11,12,13, of interest for communications and interfacing quantum systems operating at different frequencies. Here we report the observation of mechanical micro-solitons excited by optical fields in an optomechanical microresonator, expanding soliton generation in optical resonators to a different spectral window. The optical field circulating along the circumference of a whispering gallery mode resonator triggers a mechanical nonlinearity through optomechanical coupling, which in turn induces a time-varying periodic modulation on the propagating mechanical mode, leading to a tailored modal dispersion. Stable localized mechanical wave packets—mechanical solitons—can be realized when the mechanical loss is compensated by phonon gain and the optomechanical nonlinearity is balanced by the tailored modal dispersion. The realization of mechanical micro-solitons driven by light opens up new avenues for optomechanical technologies14 and may find applications in acoustic sensing, information processing, energy storage, communications and surface acoustic wave technology.