Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Queen's University
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Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Laser-Enhanced Micromechanical Sensors

Jack Sankey
McGill University

Thurs., Feb. 13, 2014
10:30 AM @ Stirling Hall 401


In the field of optomechanics we have learned to use the forces exerted by laser light to gain a new level of control over a wide variety of mechanical systems. These systems range in size from kilogram-scale mirrors in gravitational wave detectors to nanomechanical elements in cryogenic environments.

In this talk I will discuss how a very modest source of laser light (i.e. a few microwatts) can profoundly affect the motion of a micromechanical "trampoline" resonator. We are able to laser cool its mechanical motion to a very low temperature, and we can generate a nonlinear optomechanical coupling that can be used as a strong optical trap or potentially for quantum nondemolition (QND) readout of the trampoline's phonon number state. Our group is currently interested in using light as a replacement for traditional elastic materials in micromechanical force sensors. Since the behavior of light is fundamentally different from that of atoms in a flexible material, such devices should circumvent the limitations of the best existing materials and achieve an unprecedented level of precision. In the ultimate limit, our hope is to use these light-assisted mechanical devices to sense quantum superpositions from a variety of competing qubit technologies and faithfully imprint this information upon photons traveling down a standard telecom fiber.