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      Optomechanical Crystals

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          Abstract

          Structured, periodic optical materials can be used to form photonic crystals capable of dispersing, routing, and trapping light. A similar phenomena in periodic elastic structures can be used to manipulate mechanical vibrations. Here we present the design and experimental realization of strongly coupled optical and mechanical modes in a planar, periodic nanostructure on a silicon chip. 200-Terahertz photons are co-localized with mechanical modes of Gigahertz frequency and 100-femtogram mass. The effective coupling length, which describes the strength of the photon-phonon interaction, is as small as 2.9 microns, which, together with minute oscillator mass, allows all-optical actuation and transduction of nanomechanical motion with near quantum-limited sensitivity. Optomechanical crystals have many potential applications, from RF-over-optical communication to the study of quantum effects in mesoscopic mechanical systems.

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          Most cited references 20

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          Acoustic band structure of periodic elastic composites.

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            Radiation-pressure cooling and optomechanical instability of a micro-mirror

             ,  ,   (2006)
            Recent experimental progress in table-top experiments or gravitational-wave interferometers has enlightened the unique displacement sensitivity offered by optical interferometry. As the mirrors move in response to radiation pressure, higher power operation, though crucial for further sensitivity enhancement, will however increase quantum effects of radiation pressure, or even jeopardize the stable operation of the detuned cavities proposed for next-generation interferometers. The appearance of such optomechanical instabilities is the result of the nonlinear interplay between the motion of the mirrors and the optical field dynamics. In a detuned cavity indeed, the displacements of the mirror are coupled to intensity fluctuations, which modifies the effective dynamics of the mirror. Such "optical spring" effects have already been demonstrated on the mechanical damping of an electromagnetic waveguide with a moving wall, on the resonance frequency of a specially designed flexure oscillator, and through the optomechanical instability of a silica micro-toroidal resonator. We present here an experiment where a micro-mechanical resonator is used as a mirror in a very high-finesse optical cavity and its displacements monitored with an unprecedented sensitivity. By detuning the cavity, we have observed a drastic cooling of the micro-resonator by intracavity radiation pressure, down to an effective temperature of 10 K. We have also obtained an efficient heating for an opposite detuning, up to the observation of a radiation-pressure induced instability of the resonator. Further experimental progress and cryogenic operation may lead to the experimental observation of the quantum ground state of a mechanical resonator, either by passive or active cooling techniques.
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              Strong dispersive coupling of a high finesse cavity to a micromechanical membrane

              Macroscopic mechanical objects and electromagnetic degrees of freedom couple to each other via radiation pressure. Optomechanical systems with sufficiently strong coupling are predicted to exhibit quantum effects and are a topic of considerable interest. Devices reaching this regime would offer new types of control of the quantum state of both light and matter and would provide a new arena in which to explore the boundary between quantum and classical physics. Experiments to date have achieved sufficient optomechanical coupling to laser-cool mechanical devices but have not yet reached the quantum regime. The outstanding technical challenge in this field is integrating sensitive micromechanical elements (which must be small, light, and flexible) into high finesse cavities (which are typically much more rigid and massive) without compromising the mechanical or optical properties of either. A second, and more fundamental, challenge is to read out the mechanical element's quantum state: displacement measurements (no matter how sensitive) cannot determine the energy eigenstate of an oscillator, and measurements which couple to quantities other than displacement have been difficult to realize. Here we present a novel optomechanical system which seems to resolve both these challenges. We demonstrate a cavity which is detuned by the motion of a thin dielectric membrane placed between two macroscopic, rigid, high-finesse mirrors. This approach segregates optical and mechanical functionality to physically distinct structures and avoids compromising either. It also allows for direct measurement of the square of the membrane's displacement, and thus in principle the membrane's energy eigenstate. We estimate it should be practical to use this scheme to observe quantum jumps of a mechanical system.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                05 June 2009
                Article
                10.1038/nature08524
                19838165
                0906.1236

                http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

                Custom metadata
                Nature 462, 78-82 (2009)
                16 pages, 7 figures
                physics.optics

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