A Single Spin Feels the Vibrations

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Science  30 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6076, pp. 1584-1585
DOI: 10.1126/science.1220167

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Mechanical resonators find widespread applications as precision force sensors, the most prominent example being the atomic force microscope (AFM). Coupling the vibrations of a mechanical resonator to a fully controlled, microscopic quantum system such as a single spin presents a strategy for detecting and even controlling mechanical vibrations in the quantum regime. The resulting hybrid quantum system would offer new perspectives for precision force sensing and tests of quantum mechanics on a macroscopic scale. On page 1603 of this issue, Kolkowitz et al. (1) have taken a first step toward such coupled spinresonator systems by using a single electronic spin to sense mechanical vibrations of an AFM cantilever with a magnetic tip.