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Electromagnetically induced transparency and slow light with optomechanics



Controlling the interaction between localized optical and mechanical excitations has recently become possible following advances in micro- and nanofabrication techniques1,2. So far, most experimental studies of optomechanics have focused on measurement and control of the mechanical subsystem through its interaction with optics, and have led to the experimental demonstration of dynamical back-action cooling and optical rigidity of the mechanical system1,3. Conversely, the optical response of these systems is also modified in the presence of mechanical interactions, leading to effects such as electromagnetically induced transparency4 (EIT) and parametric normal-mode splitting5. In atomic systems, studies6,7 of slow and stopped light (applicable to modern optical networks8 and future quantum networks9) have thrust EIT to the forefront of experimental study during the past two decades. Here we demonstrate EIT and tunable optical delays in a nanoscale optomechanical crystal, using the optomechanical nonlinearity to control the velocity of light by way of engineered photon–phonon interactions. Our device is fabricated by simply etching holes into a thin film of silicon. At low temperature (8.7 kelvin), we report an optically tunable delay of 50 nanoseconds with near-unity optical transparency, and superluminal light with a 1.4 microsecond signal advance. These results, while indicating significant progress towards an integrated quantum optomechanical memory10, are also relevant to classical signal processing applications. Measurements at room temperature in the analogous regime of electromagnetically induced absorption show the utility of these chip-scale optomechanical systems for optical buffering, amplification, and filtering of microwave-over-optical signals.

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Figure 1: Optomechanical system.
Figure 2: Optical reflection response at temperature T = 8.7 K.
Figure 3: Measured temporal shifts and amplification.


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We thank K. Schwab for providing the microwave modulation source used in this work. This work was supported by the DARPA/MTO ORCHID programme through a grant from AFOSR, and the Kavli Nanoscience Institute at Caltech. A.H.S.-N. and J.C. acknowledge support from NSERC.

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Authors and Affiliations



J.C., A.H.S.-N. and M.E. performed the device design, and J.C. performed the device fabrication with support from M.W. and J.T.H. Measurements and data analysis were performed by A.H.S.-N. and T.P.M.A., with support from both D.E.C. and Q.L. and supervision by O.P. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to O. Painter.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Safavi-Naeini, A., Alegre, T., Chan, J. et al. Electromagnetically induced transparency and slow light with optomechanics. Nature 472, 69–73 (2011).

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