Monitoring a mechanical object’s motion, even with the gentle touch of light, fundamentally alters its dynamics. The experimental manifestation of this basic principle of quantum mechanics, its link to the quantum nature of light and the extension of quantum measurement to the macroscopic realm have all received extensive attention over the past half-century1, 2. The use of squeezed light, with quantum fluctuations below that of the vacuum field, was proposed nearly three decades ago3 as a means of reducing the optical read-out noise in precision force measurements. Conversely, it has also been proposed that a continuous measurement of a mirror’s position with light may itself give rise to squeezed light4, 5. Such squeezed-light generation has recently been demonstrated in a system of ultracold gas-phase atoms6 whose centre-of-mass motion is analogous to the motion of a mirror. Here we describe the continuous position measurement of a solid-state, optomechanical system fabricated from a silicon microchip and comprising a micromechanical resonator coupled to a nanophotonic cavity. Laser light sent into the cavity is used to measure the fluctuations in the position of the mechanical resonator at a measurement rate comparable to its resonance frequency and greater than its thermal decoherence rate. Despite the mechanical resonator’s highly excited thermal state (104 phonons), we observe, through homodyne detection, squeezing of the reflected light’s fluctuation spectrum at a level 4.5 ± 0.2 per cent below that of vacuum noise over a bandwidth of a few megahertz around the mechanical resonance frequency of 28 megahertz. With further device improvements, on-chip squeezing at significant levels should be possible, making such integrated microscale devices well suited for precision metrology applications.
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- Supplementary Information (1.9 MB)
This file contains Supplementary Text and Data 1-6, Supplementary Figures 1-15, Supplementary Table 1 and additional references.