Macroscopic objects follow the laws of classical physics, microscopic objects obey the laws of quantum mechanics. This is for sure. But at what point does a system stop to behave classically and start to show quantum properties?
Mesoscopic systems with diameters of several micrometers like the ones a team of scientists around Dr. Tobias Kippenberg at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics is dealing with may serve as a testing ground. As the scientists have shown in a recent publication  they have already succeeded in the damping of mechanical oscillations of a micro-resonator by applying the method of laser cooling which has been developed for single quantum particles.
Now they have shown that even "resolved-sideband cooling" - a special kind of laser cooling - is applicable to this object consisting of about 10 to the power of 14 molecules. This experiment is an important step towards attaining the ultimate quantum ground state of a mesoscopic object. The effective cooling process demonstrated here successfully may be of practical interest as well, since it may be used to improve techniques such as scanning probe microscopy.
The experiments of the independent Max Planck Junior Research Group "Laboratory of Photonics" headed by Dr. Tobias Kippenberg at MPQ, go back to an idea which has been formulated by the Russian theoretician Vladimir Braginski in the 1970ies. When light is confined in a cavity the phenomenon of dynamical back-action occurs: the pressure of the photons exerts a force that may be used to heat up as well as cool down the mechanical oscillator. However reaching the regime where dynamical back-action leads to efficient cooling requires optomechanical systems with high mechanical frequency and high optical finesse.Only recent advances in materials and technology have enabled the creation of devices with which the idea of Braginski could be successfully demonstrated. Nowadays researchers around the world are seeking and racing to use lasers to cool mechanical oscillators to ever lower temperatures. At the moment a number of labs across the planet are working in this field, including the MPQ, the Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel in Paris and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna, in the USA the Yale University, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California Santa Barbara (USCB).
For all experimental systems demonstrated to date this would prevent reaching the quantum ground state, in which the motional energy of the oscillator would be limited to its quantum mechanically allowed minimal value. But theorists also found a solution to this problem: Ground-state cooling should in principle be possible in the "resolved-sideband regime", as demonstrated with trapped atom and ions.
When a trapped ion oscillates with a certain frequency, its absorption spectrum consists of a series of sidebands that are displaced from the original resonance frequency by multiples of the oscillation frequency. Now cooling can be achieved by exciting the ion with laser light that is tuned to one of the energetically lower-lying sidebands. This way the photons that are absorbed by the ion are, on average, of lower energy than the photons that are emitted. This is how cooling proceeds.
In analogy to trapped ions, resolved sidebands also occur in the absorption spectra of mesoscopic optomechanical systems. Reaching this regime requires however that the mechanical oscillator frequency exceeds the optical dissipation rate of the optical resonator, that is, photons must be stored in the resonator for many mechanical oscillation periods."Only in this case, the cooling effect can outbalance the heating induced by the fluctuations of the light force", explains Albert Schließer, PhD student working on the project.
These devices reside deeply in the resolved-sideband regime, and highly efficient cooling at unprecedented cooling rates is demonstrated. The effect of the laser cooling could be accurately quantified, as an independent laser system was used to monitor mechanical displacements with a sensitivity that reaches 10 to the power of -18 m (about 100,000,000-times smaller than the diameter of a hydrogen atom) in one second averaging time. If the ground state can be achieved remains to be proven; after all researchers worldwide have been working on this already for more than a decade.
But with the new method at hand - which has removed a fundamental roadblock - the way towards the ground state is now boldly signposted and will allow some exciting science over the coming years. [AS/OM]Schliesser, A., Del'Haye, P., Nooshi, N., Vahala, K. J. & Kippenberg, T. J.
Physical Review Letters 97, 243905 (2006).
Original publication:Resolved Sideband Cooling of a Micromechanical Oscillator
Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences