Near-field cavity optomechanics with nanomechanical oscillators


Cavity-enhanced radiation-pressure coupling between optical and mechanical degrees of freedom allows quantum-limited position measurements and gives rise to dynamical backaction, enabling amplification and cooling of mechanical motion. Here, we demonstrate purely dispersive coupling of high-Q nanomechanical oscillators to an ultrahigh-finesse optical microresonator via its evanescent field, extending cavity optomechanics to nanomechanical oscillators. Dynamical backaction mediated by the optical dipole force is observed, leading to laser-like coherent nanomechanical oscillations solely due to radiation pressure. Moreover, sub-fm Hz−1/2 displacement sensitivity is achieved, with a measurement imprecision equal to the standard quantum limit (SQL), which coincides with the nanomechanical oscillator’s zero-point fluctuations. The achievement of an imprecision at the SQL and radiation-pressure dynamical backaction for nanomechanical oscillators may have implications not only for detecting quantum phenomena in mechanical systems, but also for a variety of other precision experiments. Owing to the flexibility of the near-field coupling platform, it can be readily extended to a diverse set of nanomechanical oscillators. In addition, the approach provides a route to experiments where radiation-pressure quantum backaction dominates at room temperature, enabling ponderomotive squeezing or quantum non-demolition measurements.

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Figure 1: Evanescent coupling of nanomechanical oscillators to an optical microresonator.
Figure 2: Characterization of the optomechanical coupling.
Figure 3: Displacement measurement of a nanomechanical oscillator with an imprecision at the SQL.
Figure 4: Observation of radiation-pressure-induced dynamical backaction and coherent oscillations of a nanomechanical oscillator.


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T.J.K. acknowledges financial support by an Independent Max Planck Junior Research Group of the Max Planck Society, an ERC Starting Grant (SiMP), MINOS and a Marie Curie Excellence Grant as well as the Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM). J.P.K. acknowledges financial support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft through project Ko 416/18, the German Excellence Initiative through the Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM) and LMUexcellent as well as LMUinnovativ. O.A. acknowledges financial support from a Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship within FP7 (project QUOM). T.J.K. thanks P. Gruss and the MPQ for continued Max-Planck support. The authors thank M.L. Gorodetsky for valuable discussions.

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J.P.K. initiated the study and jointly devised the concept with T.J.K. G.A. and O.A. planned, carried out and analysed the experiments supervised by T.J.K. Q.P.U. and E.M.W. designed and developed suitable nanomechanical resonators. All authors discussed the results and contributed to the manuscript. R.R. contributed to the development of the experimental apparatus and A.S. assisted with the response measurements.

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Correspondence to T. J. Kippenberg.

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Anetsberger, G., Arcizet, O., Unterreithmeier, Q. et al. Near-field cavity optomechanics with nanomechanical oscillators. Nature Phys 5, 909–914 (2009).

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