Coupling Strongly, Discretely

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Science  28 Aug 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5944, pp. 1084-1085
DOI: 10.1126/science.1178574

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The fields of electronics and mechanics have made impressive progress toward true quantum mechanical devices. Through improvements in device performance and measurement techniques, nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) have enabled high-sensitivity detection of charge, mass, and spin, and have steadily approached the quantum limit of mechanical motion (1). Similarly, the ability to manipulate individual electrons in quantum dots has led to developments in solid-state quantum computing (2). On pages 1107 and 1103 of this issue, Lassagne et al. (3) and Steele et al. (4) bring together these two fields to study the influence of charge transport on nanomechanical motion in high-performance carbon nanotube mechanical resonators that simultaneously act as quantum dots. They find that the resonant frequency and dissipation in the nanotubes are both highly sensitive to the charge state at the level of single electrons.