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Laser light used to cool object to quantum ground state

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Geplaatst op 10 oktober 2011 - 10:18

Laser Light Used to Cool Object to Quantum Ground State

For the first time, researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in collaboration with a team from the University of Vienna, have managed to cool a miniature mechanical object to its lowest possible energy state using laser light. The achievement paves the way for the development of exquisitely sensitive detectors as well as for quantum experiments that scientists have long dreamed of conducting.

"We've taken a solid mechanical system -- one made up of billions of atoms -- and used optical light to put it into a state in which it behaves according to the laws of quantum mechanics. In the past, this has only been achieved with trapped single atoms or ions," says Oskar Painter, professor of applied physics and executive officer for applied physics and materials science at Caltech and the principal investigator on a paper describing the work that appears in the October 6 issue of the journal Nature.

As described in the paper, Painter and his colleagues have engineered a nanoscale object -- a tiny mechanical silicon beam -- such that laser light of a carefully selected frequency can enter the system and, once reflected, can carry thermal energy away, cooling the system.

By carefully designing each element of the beam as well as a patterned silicon shield that isolates it from the environment, Painter and colleagues were able to use the laser cooling technique to bring the system down to the quantum ground state, where mechanical vibrations are at an absolute minimum. Such a cold mechanical object could help detect very small forces or masses, whose presence would normally be masked by the noisy thermal vibrations of the sensor.

Lees verder: http://www.scienceda...11005131657.htm

Bron: California Institute of Technology

Origineel bericht: http://mr.caltech.ed..._releases/13459
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