Nature 460, 724-727 (6 August 2009) | doi:10.1038/nature08171; Received 4 February 2009; Accepted 26 May 2009

Observation of strong coupling between a micromechanical resonator and an optical cavity field

Simon Gröblacher1,2, Klemens Hammerer3,4, Michael R. Vanner1,2 & Markus Aspelmeyer1

  1. Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Boltzmanngasse 3, A-1090 Vienna, Austria
  2. Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna, Strudlhofgasse 4, A-1090 Vienna, Austria
  3. Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI), Austrian Academy of Sciences, Technikerstras zlige 21a, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  4. Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstrasse 25, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria

Correspondence to: Markus Aspelmeyer1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.A. (Email: markus.aspelmeyer@quantum.at).

Achieving coherent quantum control over massive mechanical resonators is a current research goal. Nano- and micromechanical devices can be coupled to a variety of systems, for example to single electrons by electrostatic1, 2 or magnetic coupling3, 4, and to photons by radiation pressure5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or optical dipole forces10, 11. So far, all such experiments have operated in a regime of weak coupling, in which reversible energy exchange between the mechanical device and its coupled partner is suppressed by fast decoherence of the individual systems to their local environments. Controlled quantum experiments are in principle not possible in such a regime, but instead require strong coupling. So far, this has been demonstrated only between microscopic quantum systems, such as atoms and photons (in the context of cavity quantum electrodynamics12) or solid state qubits and photons13, 14. Strong coupling is an essential requirement for the preparation of mechanical quantum states, such as squeezed or entangled states15, 16, 17, 18, and also for using mechanical resonators in the context of quantum information processing, for example, as quantum transducers. Here we report the observation of optomechanical normal mode splitting19, 20, which provides unambiguous evidence for strong coupling of cavity photons to a mechanical resonator. This paves the way towards full quantum optical control of nano- and micromechanical devices.


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