Research Article

Light-mediated strong coupling between a mechanical oscillator and atomic spins 1 meter apart

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Science  07 May 2020:
eabb0328
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb0328

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Abstract

Engineering strong interactions between quantum systems is essential for many phenomena of quantum physics and technology. Typically, strong coupling relies on short-range forces or on placing the systems in high-quality electromagnetic resonators, restricting the range of the coupling to small distances. We use a free-space laser beam to strongly couple a collective atomic spin and a micromechanical membrane over a distance of 1 meter in a room-temperature environment. The coupling is highly tunable and allows the observation of normal-mode splitting, coherent energy exchange oscillations, two-mode thermal noise squeezing and dissipative coupling. Our approach to engineer coherent long-distance interactions with light makes it possible to couple very different systems in a modular way, opening up a range of opportunities for quantum control and coherent feedback networks.

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