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Cooling of a levitated nanoparticle to the motional quantum ground state

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Science  21 Feb 2020:
Vol. 367, Issue 6480, pp. 892-895
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba3993

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A nanoparticle trapped and cooled

Cooling massive particles to the quantum ground state allows fundamental tests of quantum mechanics to be made; it would provide an experimental probe of the boundary between the classical and quantum worlds. Delić et al. laser-cooled an optically trapped solid-state object (a ∼150-nanometer-diameter silic a nanoparticle) into its quantum ground state of motion starting from room temperature. Because the object is levitated using optical forces, the experimental configuration can be switched to free fall, thereby providing a test bed for several macroscopic quantum experiments.

Science, this issue p. 892

Abstract

Quantum control of complex objects in the regime of large size and mass provides opportunities for sensing applications and tests of fundamental physics. The realization of such extreme quantum states of matter remains a major challenge. We demonstrate a quantum interface that combines optical trapping of solids with cavity-mediated light-matter interaction. Precise control over the frequency and position of the trap laser with respect to the optical cavity allowed us to laser-cool an optically trapped nanoparticle into its quantum ground state of motion from room temperature. The particle comprises 108 atoms, similar to current Bose-Einstein condensates, with the density of a solid object. Our cooling technique, in combination with optical trap manipulation, may enable otherwise unachievable superposition states involving large masses.

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