In our lab we aim to probe quantum physics on a meso- and macroscopic level using mechanical oscillators coupled to an optical cavity field through radiation pressure. This is a relatively new research field, typically referred to as optomechanics. Over the past few years we have been able to experimentally demonstrate coherent quantum control of macroscopic degrees of freedom. If you want to find out more about this exciting field look at some of our recent publications or at this overview article.
Here in Delft we have two main research directions within optomechanics: (1) we aim to increase the opto-mechanical interaction strength to levels where single photons already have an appreciable effect. This will ultimately allow us to obtain full control over massive mechanical quantum systems. (2) we integrate the optical cavity and our mechanical systems into waveguides by patterning a photonic / phononic crystal, which are periodic structures with bandgaps for optical photons and phonons. In order to realize quantum states of the mechanical system we use single photon detection on the light field that has interacted with the mechanics.
The experiments themselves involve techniques from quantum optics, finite element simulation, cryogenics, RF and high-vacuum technology. We fabricate the mechanical oscillators for our experiments in house at the Kavli Nanolab.
Our research has recently been very prominently featured on the cover of the July issue of Scientific American:
For more information on my background visit my personal page.
Finite element simulation of the mechanical mode of the oscillator used to demonstrate a joint non-classical state between a massive mechanical system and light. The insets show the energy level scheme of the optomechanical radiation pressure interaction for the Stokes (blue) and anti-Stokes (red) sideband: Nature 530, 313 – 316 (2016). We recently used a similar device to create a single phonon state of a mechanical resonator: Science 358, 203 – 206 (2017) and are now even able to create an entangled state between two such mechanical oscillators Nature 556, 473 – 477 (2018).
An artist’s impression of one of our ultra-thin silicon nitride tethered membranes coupled to a laser beam. They exhibit mechanical quality factors of around 108 at room temperature and reflectivities greater than 99%, thanks to a photonic crystal. More information on these devices can be found in our recent article: Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 147202 (2016).