Research Article

Propagating phonons coupled to an artificial atom

Science  11 Sep 2014:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1257219

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Abstract

Quantum information can be stored in micromechanical resonators, encoded as quanta of vibration known as phonons. The vibrational motion is then restricted to the stationary eigenmodes of the resonator, which thus serves as local storage for phonons. In contrast, we couple propagating phonons to an artificial atom in the quantum regime and reproduce findings from quantum optics with sound taking over the role of light. Our results highlight the similarities between phonons and photons but also point to new opportunities arising from the unique features of quantum mechanical sound. The low propagation speed of phonons should enable new dynamic schemes for processing quantum information, and the short wavelength allows regimes of atomic physics to be explored that cannot be reached in photonic systems.

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