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Sympathetic cooling of a membrane oscillator in a hybrid mechanical–atomic system


Sympathetic cooling with ultracold atoms1 and atomic ions2 enables ultralow temperatures in systems where direct laser or evaporative cooling is not possible. It has so far been limited to the cooling of other microscopic particles, with masses up to 90 times larger than that of the coolant atom3. Here, we use ultracold atoms to sympathetically cool the vibrations of a Si3N4 nanomembrane4,5, the mass of which exceeds that of the atomic ensemble by a factor of 1010. The coupling of atomic and membrane vibrations is mediated by laser light over a macroscopic distance6,7 and is enhanced by placing the membrane in an optical cavity8. We observe cooling of the membrane vibrations from room temperature to 650 ± 230 mK, exploiting the large atom–membrane cooperativity9 of our hybrid optomechanical system10,11. With technical improvements, our scheme could provide ground-state cooling and quantum control of low-frequency oscillators such as nanomembranes or levitated nanoparticles12,13, in a regime where purely optomechanical techniques cannot reach the ground state8,9.

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Figure 1: Coupling mechanism and schematic of the experiment.
Figure 2: Sympathetic cooling of the membrane.
Figure 3: Resonant turn on of sympathetic cooling.


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The authors thank B. Vogell, K. Hammerer and P. Zoller for discussions and A. Nunnenkamp and C. Bruder for careful reading and commenting on the manuscript. This work was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation through NCCR Quantum Science and Technology and by the European Union through the project SIQS. M.T.R. acknowledges support from a Marie Curie IIF fellowship.

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P.T. conceived and supervised the study. A.J., M.K., A.F., T.K. and M.T.R. built the experimental set-up. A.J., A.F. and T.K. performed the experiments and analysed the data, with frequent discussions with P.T. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Philipp Treutlein.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Jöckel, A., Faber, A., Kampschulte, T. et al. Sympathetic cooling of a membrane oscillator in a hybrid mechanical–atomic system. Nature Nanotech 10, 55–59 (2015).

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