Letter | Published:

Cavity-mediated coupling of mechanical oscillators limited by quantum back-action

Nature Physics volume 12, pages 2731 (2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

A complex quantum system can be constructed by coupling simple elements. For example, trapped-ion1,2 or superconducting3 quantum bits may be coupled by Coulomb interactions, mediated by the exchange of virtual photons. Alternatively, quantum objects can be made to emit and exchange real photons, providing either unidirectional coupling in cascaded geometries4,5,6, or bidirectional coupling that is particularly strong when both objects are placed within a common electromagnetic resonator7. However, in such an open system, the capacity of a coupling channel to convey quantum information or generate entanglement may be compromised by photon loss8. Here, we realize phase-coherent interactions between two addressable, spatially separated, near-ground-state mechanical oscillators within a driven optical cavity. We observe the quantum back-action noise imparted by the optical coupling resulting in correlated mechanical fluctuations of the two oscillators. Our results illustrate challenges and opportunities of coupling quantum objects with light for applications of quantum cavity optomechanics8,9,10,11,12,13,14.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and NSF. N.S. was supported by a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship, J.K. and S.S. by the US Department of Defense through the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program, and L.B. by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

    • Nicolas Spethmann
    • , Jonathan Kohler
    • , Sydney Schreppler
    • , Lukas Buchmann
    •  & Dan M. Stamper-Kurn
  2. Fachbereich Physik, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany

    • Nicolas Spethmann
  3. Materials Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

    • Dan M. Stamper-Kurn

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Contributions

Experimental data were taken by N.S., J.K. and S.S.; L.B. developed the theoretical model. All authors were involved with experimental design, data analysis, and production of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nicolas Spethmann.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphys3515

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