Abstract

Lithium niobate (LN), an outstanding and versatile material, has influenced our daily life for decades—from enabling high-speed optical communications that form the backbone of the Internet to realizing radio-frequency filtering used in our cell phones. This half-century-old material is currently embracing a revolution in thin-film LN integrated photonics. The successes of manufacturing wafer-scale, high-quality thin films of LN-on-insulator (LNOI) and breakthroughs in nanofabrication techniques have made high-performance integrated nanophotonic components possible. With rapid development in the past few years, some of these thin-film LN devices, such as optical modulators and nonlinear wavelength converters, have already outperformed their legacy counterparts realized in bulk LN crystals. Furthermore, the nanophotonic integration has enabled ultra-low-loss resonators in LN, which has unlocked many novel applications such as optical frequency combs and quantum transducers. In this review, we cover—from basic principles to the state of the art—the diverse aspects of integrated thin-film LN photonics, including the materials, basic passive components, and various active devices based on electro-optics, all-optical nonlinearities, and acousto-optics. We also identify challenges that this platform is currently facing and point out future opportunities. The field of integrated LNOI photonics is advancing rapidly and poised to make critical impacts on a broad range of applications in communication, signal processing, and quantum information.

© 2021 Optical Society of America

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