Engineering dissipation with phononic spectral hole burning

R. O. Behunin, P. Kharel, W. H. Renninger, P. T. Rakich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Optomechanics, nano-electromechanics, and integrated photonics have brought about a renaissance in phononic device physics and technology. Central to this advance are devices and materials supporting ultra-long-lived photonic and phononic excitations that enable novel regimes of classical and quantum dynamics based on tailorable photon-phonon coupling. Silica-based devices have been at the forefront of such innovations for their ability to support optical excitations persisting for nearly 1 billion cycles, and for their low optical nonlinearity. While acoustic phonon modes can persist for a similar number of cycles in crystalline solids at cryogenic temperatures, it has not been possible to achieve such performance in silica, as silica becomes acoustically opaque at low temperatures. We demonstrate that these intrinsic forms of phonon dissipation are greatly reduced (by >90%) by nonlinear saturation using continuous drive fields of disparate frequencies. The result is a form of steady-state phononic spectral hole burning that produces a wideband transparency window with optically generated phonon fields of modest (nW) powers. We developed a simple model that explains both dissipative and dispersive changes produced by phononic saturation. Our studies, conducted in a microscale device, represent an important step towards engineerable phonon dynamics on demand and the use of glasses as low-loss phononic media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-321
Number of pages7
JournalNature Materials
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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