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Ultracoherent nanomechanical resonators via soft clamping and dissipation dilution


The small mass and high coherence of nanomechanical resonators render them the ultimate mechanical probe, with applications that range from protein mass spectrometry and magnetic resonance force microscopy to quantum optomechanics. A notorious challenge in these experiments is the thermomechanical noise related to the dissipation through internal or external loss channels. Here we introduce a novel approach to define the nanomechanical modes, which simultaneously provides a strong spatial confinement, full isolation from the substrate and dilution of the resonator material's intrinsic dissipation by five orders of magnitude. It is based on a phononic bandgap structure that localizes the mode but does not impose the boundary conditions of a rigid clamp. The reduced curvature in the highly tensioned silicon nitride resonator enables a mechanical Q > 108 at 1 MHz to yield the highest mechanical Qf products (>1014 Hz) yet reported at room temperature.

The corresponding coherence times approach those of optically trapped dielectric particles. Extrapolation to 4.2 K predicts quanta per milliseconds heating rates, similar to those of trapped ions.

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Figure 1: Device characterization.
Figure 2: Quality factor statistics.
Figure 3: Scaling of quality factors.
Figure 4: Enhancing the dissipation dilution.
Figure 5: Alternative structures.


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The authors acknowledge discussions with S. Schmid from TU Wien and H. Tang from Yale University. A. Simonsen and M. B. Kristensen provided support with the imaging and noise measurements, respectively, of some of the devices. This work has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (ERC project Q-CEOM, grant agreement no. 638765), the European Union Seventh Framework programme (ERC project INTERFACE), a starting grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research and the Carlsberg Foundation.

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A.S. conceived the idea and directed the research. A.S. and E.S.P. provided general research supervision. Y.T. designed, simulated and fabricated the samples. Y.T. and A.B. characterized and imaged the samples. A.S. and Y.T. analysed the data, developed the model and wrote the paper. All authors commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to A. Schliesser.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Tsaturyan, Y., Barg, A., Polzik, E. et al. Ultracoherent nanomechanical resonators via soft clamping and dissipation dilution. Nature Nanotech 12, 776–783 (2017).

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