Abstract

In this Letter, we show that giant thermo-optical oscillations can be triggered in millimeter (mm)-size whispering gallery mode (WGM) disk resonators when they are pumped by a resonant continuous-wave laser. Our resonator is an ultrahigh-Q barium fluoride cavity that features a positive thermo-optic coefficient and a negative thermo-elastic coefficient. We demonstrate for the first time, to our knowledge, that the complex interplay between these two thermic coefficients and the intrinsic Kerr nonlinearity yields very sharp slow–fast relaxation oscillations with a slow timescale that can be exceptionally large, typically of the order of 1 s. We use a time-domain model to gain understanding into this instability, and we find that both the experimental and theoretical results are in excellent agreement. The understanding of these thermal effects is an essential requirement for every WGM-related application and our study demonstrates that even in the case of mm-size resonators, such effects can still be accurately analyzed using nonlinear time-domain models.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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