Applied Physics

Inducing a Single Vibration

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Science  02 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6183, pp. 451
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6183.451-a

Optomechanical systems typically consist of a mechanical oscillator or cantilever that can be driven by the optical radiation pressure of light. The light can either amplify the motion of the cantilever or be used to reduce the amount of vibration and effectively cool it. Recent work has demonstrated cooling to the extent that the number of vibrations, or phonons, in an oscillator can be quantized, even reaching the quantum-mechanical ground. Galland et al. introduce a method to introduce a single phonon into their mechanical oscillator. Starting off in the quantum-mechanical ground, they pump the system with a laser pulse that generates an entangled phonon-photon pair. Detection of the photon then heralds that a single-phonon state has been induced into the oscillator. The ability to deterministically control the number of vibrational quanta in such an optomechanical system has important implications for the likes of quantum information processing and quantum enhanced sensing applications.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 143602 (2014).

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