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Low-dimensional materials, due to their unique and versatile properties, are very interesting for numerous applications in electronics and optoelectronics. Recently rediscovered black phosphorus, with a graphite-like layered structure, can be effectively exfoliated up to the single atomic layer called phosphorene. Contrary to graphene, it possesses a direct band gap controllable by the number of stacked atomic layers. For those reasons, black phosphorus is now intensively investigated and can complement or replace graphene in various photonics and electronics applications. Here, we demonstrate that black phosphorus can serve as a broadband saturable absorber and can be used for ultrashort optical pulse generation. The mechanically exfoliated ∼300 nm thick layers of black phosphorus were transferred onto the fiber core, and under pulsed excitation at 1560 nm wavelength, its transmission increases by 4.6%. We have demonstrated that the saturable absorption of black phosphorus is polarization sensitive. The fabricated device was used to mode-lock an Er-doped fiber laser. The generated optical solitons with the 10.2 nm bandwidth and 272 fs duration were centered at 1550 nm. The obtained results unambiguously show that black phosphorus can be effectively used for ultrashort pulse generation with performances similar or even better than currently used graphene or carbon nanotubes. This application of black phosphorus proves its great potential to future practical use in photonics.


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