Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Optically Levitate a Glowing, Nanoscale Diamond

13.08.2013
Researchers at the University of Rochester have measured for the first time light emitted by photoluminescence from a nanodiamond levitating in free space.

In a paper published this week in Optics Letters, they describe how they used a laser to trap nanodiamonds in space, and – using another laser – caused the diamonds to emit light at given frequencies.


The researchers show photoluminescence from an optically levitated nano diamond. Photo by J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester.

The experiment, led by Nick Vamivakas, an assistant professor of optics, demonstrates that it is possible to levitate diamonds as small as 100 nanometers (approximately one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair) in free space, by using a technique known as laser trapping.

"Now that we have shown we can levitate nanodiamonds and measure photoluminescence from defects inside the diamonds, we can start considering systems that could have applications in the field of quantum information and computing," said Vamivakas. He said an example of such a system would be an optomechanical resonator.

Vamivakas explained that optomechanical resonators are structures in which the vibrations of the system, in this case the trapped nanodiamond, can be controlled by light. "We are yet to explore this, but in theory we could encode information in the vibrations of the diamonds and extract it using the light they emit."

Possible avenues of interest in the long-term with these nano-optomechanical resonators include the creation of what are known as Schrödinger Cat states (macroscopic, or large-scale, systems that are in two quantum states at once). These resonators could also be used as extremely sensitive sensors of forces – for example, to measure tiny displacements in the positions of metal plates or mirrors in configurations used in microchips and understand friction better on the nanoscale.

"Levitating particles such as these could have advantages over other optomechanical oscillators that exist, as they are not attached to any large structures," Vamivakas explained. "This would mean they are easier to keep cool and it is expected that fragile quantum coherence, essential for these systems to work, will last sufficiently long for experiments to be performed."

The future experiments that Vamivakas and his team are planning build on previous work at Rochester by Lukas Novotny, a co-author of the paper and now at ETH in Zurich, Switzerland. Novotny and his group showed previously that by tweaking the trapping laser's properties, a particle can be pushed towards its quantum ground state. By linking the laser cooling of the crystal resonator with the spin of the internal defect it should be possible to monitor the changes in spin configuration of the internal defect – these changes are called Bohr spin quantum jumps – via the mechanical resonator's vibrations. Vamivakas explained that experiments like this would expand what we know about the classical-quantum boundary and address fundamental physics questions.

The light emitted by the nanodiamonds is due to photoluminescence. The defects inside the nanodiamonds absorb photons from the second laser – not the one that is trapping the diamonds – which excites the system and changes the spin. The system then relaxes and other photons are emitted. This process is also known as optical pumping.

The defects come about because of nitrogen vacancies, which occur when one or more of the carbon atoms in diamond is replaced by a nitrogen atom. The chemical structure is such that at the nitrogen site it is possible to excite electrons, using a laser, between different available energy levels. Previous experiments have shown that these nitrogen vacancy centers in diamonds are good, stable sources of single photons, which is why the researchers were keen to levitate these particles.

Using lasers to trap ions, atoms and more recently larger particles is a well-established field of physics. Nanodiamonds, however, had never been levitated. To position these 100 nanometers diamonds in the correct spot an aerosol containing dissolved nanodiamonds sprays into a chamber about 10 inches in diameter, where the laser's focus point is located. The diamonds are attracted to this focus point and when they drift into this spot they are trapped by the laser. Graduate student Levi Neukirch explains that sometimes "it takes a couple of squirts and in a few minutes we have a trapped nanodiamond; other times I can be here for half an hour before any diamond gets caught. Once a diamond wanders into the trap we can hold it for hours."

The Rochester researchers collaborated on this paper with Lukas Novotny, formerly at the University of Rochester and now at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, and with Jan Gieseler and Romain Quidant, at ICFO in Barcelona, Spain.

The researchers acknowledge the support from the University of Rochester, the European Community's Seventh Framework Program, Fundació privada CELLEX and from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Contact: Leonor Sierra
lsierra@ur.rochester.edu
585.276.6264
About the University of Rochester
The University of Rochester (www.rochester.edu) is one of the nation's leading private universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives students exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by its Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery.

Leonor Sierra | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rochester.edu
http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=6902

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Shape matters when light meets atom
05.12.2016 | Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore

nachricht Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>