Ultrahigh Speed Light Manipulation Laboratory

The Ultrahigh Speed Light Manipulation Laboratory is a photonics research facility devoted primarily to laser systems. Lab teams conduct science experiments in quantum optics, metrology, nanophotonics and biophotonics, terhetz (THz) science, and, of course, nonlinear optics using free-space, fiber-based, and integrated optical components and devices.

The Ultrahigh Speed Light Manipulation Laboratory helps provide a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of optical communications, including the dynamics of ultrashort optical pulses under varying conditions of dispersion and diffraction. The laboratory also supports innovation in methods for processing, manipulating, and monitoring optical signals. Laser systems are essential for testing fibers and integrated subsystems for processing ultrashort optical pulses.

Remarkable recent advances in generating, processing, and manipulating ultrashort optical impulses have greatly accelerated the use and dissemination of ultrafast all-optical techniques in many fields of physics, chemistry, biology, materials processing, biomedical engineering, and so on.

These techniques are also extremely important for the development of next-generation ultra-high-speed telecommunications and information-processing networks and are expected to lay the groundwork for tomorrow’s ultrafast computer systems.

All of these applications require better control of ultrashort light pulses (from femtosecond to nanosecond regimes) so they can be adapted to meet the requirements of highly specific functionalities.

The Ultrahigh-Speed Light Manipulation Laboratory is an open-access facility within the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre. The lab houses equipment essential to current lines of research.


Superconducting nanowire single photon detector system

Detectors are coupled with optical fiber and the time-to-digital electronics needed for high-efficiency (> 80%) detection of single photons in the infrared band (optimized for 1550 nm). The system’s low dead time of 100-20 ns allows for a maximum photon count rate of 10 MHz (with an 80 ps jitter). The background photon count rate in the system is lower than 1,000 counts/second.


Rubidium optical frequency standard synthesizer

This system is made up of a femtosecond laser with a built-in switch to control the carrier-envelope offset frequency of the source, an erbium-doped fiber amplifier, a highly nonlinear fiber for spectral broadening, a nonlinear f-2f interferometer based on a coupled fiber-waveguide, and the lockout electronics required to stabilize the laser repetition rate and the carrier envelope frequency. The source is set to a 10 MHz rubidium frequency standard.


Custom fiber interferometers

This platform is made up of optical fiber interferometers and a reference laser for retrieving, modifying, and stabilizing the interferometric phase. The platform allows for <1.3×10-3 rad deviations across integration times of 1 ms to 1.2 hours for all phases tested, with phase-independent stability across the entire range of 2 (for access to arbitrary phase adjustments).


Amplified ultrafast laser system (Newport Spectra Physics)

This platform is made up of four basic units. The system is powered by a laser oscillator (Mai Tai®) operating at a wavelength of 800 nm, with a repetition rate of 80 MHz, a pulse length of 120 fs, and average power of 3 W (pulse energy ~ 37 nJ). This beamline is used to power both a regenerative amplifier and an optical parametric oscillator. The regenerative amplifier (Spitfire Pro®) supplies an amplified pulse train beam at a wavelength of 800 nm, with a repetition rate of 150 fs and average power of 2 W (pulse energy of 2 mJ). The optical parametric oscillator (Opal®) supplies a pulsed beam at a repetition rate of 80 MHz, with a pulse length of 200 fs and average power of 200 mW. The wavelengths generated cover the near and mid infrared (1.1–1.6 μm for the signal and 1.6–2.2 μm for the idler). The regenerative amplifier powers an optical parametric amplifier (OPA-800C®) that generates up to four beamline outputs: (i) signal (pulse length of 160 fs, repetition rate of 1 kHz, average power of 80 mW, wavelength in the 1.1–1.6 μm range), (ii) idler (pulse length of 160 fs, repetition rate of 1 kHz, average power of 80 mW, wavelength in the 1.1–2.2 μm range), and (iii–iv) the second harmonics of the signal and idler.


High-resolution monochromator (Oriel® CS260™, Spectra Physics).

This instrument is made up of three ruled gratings covering the 200 to 1350 nm spectral range. It is used to calibrate the optical parametric oscillator as well as the optical parametric amplification units in (4) and for studying the next generation of colours in nonlinear experiments (high/low optical conversion process).


Lock-in amplifiers (Stanford Research Systems)

These systems, namely, the SR810 (single channel, 102 kHz bandwidth), SR830 (two channels, 102 kHz bandwidth), and SR844 (two channels, 200 MHz bandwidth) are used to perform phase-sensitive detection techniques in an optical pump probe and THz spectroscopy experiments. Detection processes of this kind involve isolating and retrieving the signal component only at a specific reference frequency and phase, while rejecting sound signals with frequencies other than the reference frequency.


IRXCAM-THz-384 camera (INO)

This device uses state-of-the-art uncooled microbolometer detectors for imaging in the terahertz range. A 384 x 288-pixel matrix detector is combined with a custom THz lens to produce high-resolution/high-sensitivity images.
Integrated components: High-quality-factor ring resonators These CMOS-compatible SiON resonators have quality factors of Q> 106 and FSRs between 20 and 200 GHz. They are characterized by negligible nonlinear optical propagation losses (nonlinear parameter γ ~ 220 W-1 km-1), allowing for access to nonlinear processes such as four-wave mixing on a femtosecond time scale and potential processing at Tbit/s data flows. Integrated spiral waveguides. SiON on-chip spiral waveguides with tight modal confinement and long propagation distances (up to 1 m) that can be used to generate third-order nonlinear processes with a smaller system volume and minimal losses. Nonlinear microresonators and waveguides with these characteristics are currently only available to a handful of research groups worldwide. Integrated delay line. A SiON single shared and delay line, using a series of Mach-Zehnder interferometers that can be controlled individually to adjust the phase and amplitude of the input signal at a faster repetition rate than arbitrary signal generators can produce, i.e., in the THz regime and higher.


Electronics: Agilent DSO-X 92804A

This high bandwidth (28 GHz, 80 GS/s) oscilloscope with four separate channels takes real-time measurements of fast signals through fast photodiodes (up to 100 GHz, also available in the lab). The oscillator can be referenced to an atomic clock (microwave standard) and used to record signals via industry standards such as Ethernet and USB. Anritsu M3695B Radiofrequency/microwave signal generator. This frequency generator can produce sinusoidal wave forms up to 50 GHz with a very high resolution frequency (0.01 Hz). It modulates amplitude and phase, both of which are very important in implementing telecommunication applications. The signal generator can also directly control all modulators (phase and amplitude) the laboratory has access to (up to 40 GHz). It can be referenced to a microwave standard and interfaced via a general purpose interface bus (GPIB).


Tektronix 7122C arbitrary signal generator

This instrument generates arbitrary high-bandwidth signals up to 9.6 GHz. It has high 10-bit binary resolution and sample rates up to 24 G/s. There are two separate outputs, and wave forms can be generated manually or from a separate interface, via a GPIB. The generator also has a reference input for a microwave standard.

The Ultrahigh Speed Light Manipulation Laboratory is available to Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre faculty, students, and staff for their research projects, with the lab manager’s authorization.

Lab resources can also be used for external collaborations or research and development contracts.

The lab charges for all experiments (e.g., terahertz spectroscopy or the quantum characterization of integrated systems). In accordance with the policy adopted by the INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre in Varennes, lab costs cover operating and maintenance costs. Contact us for more information.


A general description of the lab team’s research projects can be found at

Current projects include:

The development of a robust, stable, and low-cost platform for generating and controlling complex, non-classical states of light in order to achieve high coding capacity for the advanced processing of quantum information, operating on an integrated standard telecommunications infrastructure.
The use of analog optical processing for the development of smart photonic devices, including a new type of compact and energy-efficient optical reservoir computing platform that uses the dynamics of microresonator frequency combs, capable of processing data at the speed of light.

The development of a new compact ultrasensitive multigas terahetz system that uses a single detection surface to detect in real time and quantify multiple gases.

The development of a new, non-invasive and high-sensitivity biological thermal imaging technique that harnesses the strong interaction between terahertz radiation and water to establish a correlation between terahertz and temperature. Eventually the new technique will make it possible to map heat distribution in organic media such as live tissue and to add a terahertz thermometer.

Funding applications are pending for projects to:

  • Improve the detection capability of single-photon detectors
  • Develop sources of entangled photons using the unique properties of dielectric metasurfaces
  • Demonstrate a practical advanced quantum processing operation accessible via standard communication networks
  • Develop a high-speed optical neuron network for a voice recognition application and create an all-optical signal processing system based on AI, using standard fiber components.

The lab has received eleven RTI (Research Tools and Instruments) grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and two grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).


Roberto Morandotti
Professor et Scientific leader
Phone: 514-228-6924
Email: morandotti@emt.inrs.ca

Ultrahigh Speed Light Manipulation Laboratory

Institut national de la recherche scientifique

Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre
1650 blvd. Lionel-Boulet
Varennes, Quebec  J3X 1S2

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