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A picogram- and nanometre-scale photonic-crystal optomechanical cavity

Nature volume 459, pages 550555 (28 May 2009) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The dynamic back-action caused by electromagnetic forces (radiation pressure) in optical1,2,3,4,5,6 and microwave7 cavities is of growing interest8. Back-action cooling, for example, is being pursued as a means of achieving the quantum ground state of macroscopic mechanical oscillators. Work in the optical domain has revolved around millimetre- or micrometre-scale structures using the radiation pressure force. By comparison, in microwave devices, low-loss superconducting structures have been used for gradient-force-mediated coupling to a nanomechanical oscillator of picogram mass7. Here we describe measurements of an optical system consisting of a pair of specially patterned nanoscale beams in which optical and mechanical energies are simultaneously localized to a cubic-micron-scale volume, and for which large per-photon optical gradient forces are realized. The resulting scale of the per-photon force and the mass of the structure enable the exploration of cavity optomechanical regimes in which, for example, the mechanical rigidity of the structure is dominantly provided by the internal light field itself. In addition to precision measurement and sensitive force detection9, nano-optomechanics may find application in reconfigurable and tunable photonic systems10, light-based radio-frequency communication11 and the generation of giant optical nonlinearities for wavelength conversion and optical buffering12.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Q. Lin for extensive discussions regarding this work, and for pointing out the origin of the mechanical resonance interference. Funding for this work was provided by a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency seedling effort managed by H. Temkin, and through an Emerging Models and Technologies grant from the US National Science Foundation.

Author Contributions M.E. and R.C. performed the majority of the fabrication and testing of devices and J.C. performed the optical and mechanical simulations. O.P., along with M.E. and K.J.V., developed the device concept. O.P., K.J.V., M.E. and R.C. all contributed to planning the measurements. All authors worked together to write the manuscript.

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  1. Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Laboratory of Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA

    • Matt Eichenfield
    • , Ryan Camacho
    • , Jasper Chan
    • , Kerry J. Vahala
    •  & Oskar Painter

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Oskar Painter.

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    Supplementary Information

    This file contains Supplementary Data, Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Figures S-1-S-3 with Legends and Supplementary References.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08061

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