CE30 - Physique de la matière condensée et de la matière diluée

Reaching the quantum ground state of an optically levitated nanomechanical oscillator – QLeviO

Submission summary

Levitated nanomechanical oscillator presents some advantages with respect to its clamped optomechanical counterparts, as e.g. its ability during free-fall and coherent evolution to expand its wavefunction up to overlap the particle’s size. Wave-matter interference are expected to test the fundations of quantum mechanics through collapse models and to verify the role of gravity as a fundamental limit in the coherence of a macroscopic quantum superposition. With its extreme isolation from environment and the highest recorded mechanical quality factor, levitated particles are also ultra-sensitive force sensors with the ability to test the existence or not a fifth force, arising from beyond standard models.
A prerequisite for carrying out theses studies is to ground state cool the centre-of-mass motion of the optically trapped particle. There are several types of cooling schemes, such as parametric and linear feedback, as well as, cavity-based side-band and coherent scattering cooling. The latter enabled to achieve ground state cooling for only one vibrational degree of freedom.
LOMA is a pioneer in France in the study of optical vacuum trapping of dielectric nanoparticles. To go further in this field, it is desirable to cool the particle in the three directions of space in a completely optical manner. Our all-optical cooling protocol will enable to directly measure in real-time weak vectorial forces.
The QleviO project proposes to ground state cool all vibrational degrees of freedom of a nanoparticle by radiation pressure without requiring an optical resonator or a cryostat. Up to now, optical trapping in high vacuum restricts nanoparticle materials to silica because of its efficient heat dissipation by emitted black body photons. To extend to other materials, the quality of the material and the laser sources are of the utmost importance. To control the particle motional state with light, the refractive index should be high and the light absorption should be weak, while mitigating the heat excess in high vacuum.
It turns out that the only laboratory that best meets all of these conditions is the ICMCB that produces core@shell Si@SiO2 particles. The core has a high index and the silica shell efficiently dissipate the heat excess due to its higher emissivity. This now requires to trap and cool such particles to the most favorable wavelength, 1550 nm. Futhermore, the intensity noise of the laser source has to be specifically minimized at the oscillator frequencies. The experts in high-power ultra-low intensity noise laser sources are in LP2N and will develop such sources : one for trapping (and detecting the particle’s motion) and one source dedicated to cool the center-of-mass motion. The interactions between partners will be strong and the consortium strategy will be to work in parallel in the material side, the optomechanical setup and the laser sources.
Remarkably, almost all position information is carried by the backscattered photons, facilitating a homodyne measurement operating close to the Heisenberg limit. Thus, to reach the ground state in the three dimensional space of an optically tweezed particle, we will use measurement-based quantum feedback. This is based on the fact that we can resolve the zero point motion in the decoherence scale time and implement a measurement-based feedback control to cool the oscillator towards its ground state. In other words, the real-time feedback anticipates and cancels the disturbance due to backaction-induced motion.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LP2N Laboratoire Photonique, Numérique, Nanosciences

Help of the ANR 447,962 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2022 - 48 Months

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