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Publication# Quantum limits on measurement and control of a mechanical oscillator

Abstract

The precision measurement of position has a long-standing tradition in physics. Cavendish's verification of the universal law of gravitation using a torsion pendulum, Perrin's confirmation of the atomic hypothesis via the precise measurement of the Brownian motion, and, the verification of the mechanical effect of electromagnetic radiation, all belong to this classical heritage. Quantum mechanics posits that the measurement of position results in an uncertain momentum; an idea developed to full maturity within the context of interferometric searches for gravity waves. Over the past decade, standing at the confluence of quantum optics and nanomechanics, cavity optomechanics has emerged as a powerful platform to study the quantum limits of position measurements. The subject of this thesis is the precision measurement of the position of a nano-mechanical oscillator, the fundamental limits of such measurements, and its relevance to measurement-based feedback control. The nano-mechanical oscillator is coupled to light confined in an optical micro-cavity via radiation pressure. The fluctuations in the position of the oscillator are transduced onto the phase of the light, while quantum fluctuations in the amplitude of the light leads to a disturbance in the momentum of the oscillator. We perform an interferometric position measurement with a sensitivity that is 10^5 times below what is required to resolve the zero-point motion of the oscillator, constituting the most precise measurement of thermal motion yet. The resulting disturbance -- measurement back-action -- is observed to be commensurate with the uncertainty principle, leading to a 10% contribution to the total motion of the oscillator. The continuous record of the measurement (performed in a 4 K cryogenic environment) furnishes the ability to resolve the zero-point motion of the oscillator within its decoherence rate - the necessary condition for measurement-based feedback control of the state of the oscillator. Using the measurement record as error signal, the oscillator is cooled towards its ground state, resulting in a factor 10^4 suppression of its total (thermal and back-action) motion, to a final occupation of 5 phonons on average. Measurements generally proceed by establishing correlations between the system being measured and the measuring device. For the class of quantum measurements employed here - continuous linear measurements - these correlations arise due to measurement back-action. These back-action-induced correlations appear as correlations between the degrees of freedom of the measuring device. For interferometric position measurements, quantum correlations are established between the phase and amplitude of the light. In a homodyne measurement, they lead to optical squeezing, while in a heterodyne measurement, they appear as an asymmetry in the sidebands carrying information about the oscillator position. Feedback is used to enhance sideband asymmetry, a first proof-of-principle demonstration of the ability to control quantum correlations using feedback. In the regime where amplified vacuum noise dominates the feedback signal, the disappearance of sideband asymmetry visualises a fundamental limit of linear feedback control. Using a homodyne detector, we also characterise these quantum correlations manifested as optical squeezing at the 1% level.

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In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle places a fundamental limit in the measurement precision for certain pairs of physical quantities, such as position and momentum, time and energy or amplitude and phase. Due to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, any attempt to extract certain information from a quantum object would inevitably perturbitinanunpredictableway. This raises one question,"What is the precision limit in such quantum measurements?" The answer, standard quantum limit (SQL), has been obtained by Braginsky to figure out the fundamental quantum limits of displacement measurement in the context of gravitational wave detection. To circumvent the unavoidable quantum back-action from the priori measurement, quantum non-demolition measurement (QND) methods were introduced by Braginsky and Thorne. To surpass the SQL of the displacement measurement in an interferometer, one can measure only one quadrature of the mechanical motion while give up the information about the other canonically conjugated quadrature. Such measurements can be performed by periodic driving the mechanical oscillator, i.e. the back-action evading (BAE) measurement.
Cavity optomechanics provides an ideal table-top platform for the testing of the quantum measurement theory. Mechanical oscillator is coupled to electromagnetic field via radiation pressure, which is enhanced by an optical micro-cavity. Over the last decade, laser cooling has enabled the preparation of mechanical oscillator in the ground state in both optical and microwave systems. BAE measurements of mechanical motion have been allowed in the microwave electromechanical systems, which led to the observations of mechanical squeezing and entanglement. However, despite the theoretical proposal almost 40 years ago, the sub-SQL measurements still remain elusive. This thesis reports our efforts approach the sub-SQL with a highly sideband-resolved silicon optomechanical crystal (OMC) in a 3He buffer gas environment at 2K. The OMC couples an optical mode at telecommunication wavelengths and a colocalized mechanical mode at GHz frequencies. The Helium3 buffer gas environment allows sufficient thermalization of the OMC despite the drastically decreased silicon thermal conductivity. We observe Floquet dynamics in motional sideband asymmetry measurement when employing multiple probe tones. The Floquet dynamics arises due to presence of Kerr-type nonlinearities and gives rise to an artificially modified motional sideband asymmetry, resulting from a synthetic gauge field among the Fourier modes. We demonstrate the first optical continuous two-tone backaction-evading measurement of a localized GHz frequency mechanical mode of silicon OMC close to the ground state by showing the transition from conventional sideband asymmetry to backaction-evading measurement. We discover a fundamental two-tone optomechanical instability and demonstrate its implications on the back-action evading measurement. Such instability imposes a fundamental limitation on other two-tone schemes, such as dissipative quantum mechanical squeezing. We demonstrate state-of-art laser sideband cooling of the mechanical motion to a mean thermal occupancy of 0.09 quantum, which is 7.4dB of the oscillator's zero-point energy and corresponds to 92% ground state probability. This also enables us to observe the dissipative mechanical squeezing below the zero-point motion for the first time with laser light.

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Why are classical theories often sufficient to describe the physics of our world even though everything around us is entirely composed of microscopic quantum systems? The boundary between these two fundamentally dissimilar theories remains an unsolved problem in modern physics. Position measurements of small objects allow us to probe the area where the classical approximation breaks down. In quantum mechanics, Heisenbergâs uncertainty principle dictates that any measurement of the position must be accompanied by measurement induced back-action---in this case manifested as an uncertainty in the momentum. In recent years, cavity optomechanics has become a powerful tool to perform precise position measurements and investigate their fundamental limitations. The utilization of optical micro-cavities greatly enhances the interaction between light and state-of-the-art nanomechanical oscillators. Therefore, quantum mechanical phenomena have been successfully observed in systems far beyond the microscopic world. In such a cavity optomechanical system, the fluctuations in the position of the oscillator are transduced onto the phase of the light, while fluctuations in the amplitude of the light disturb the momentum of the oscillator during the measurement. As a consequence, correlations are established between the amplitude and phase quadrature of the probe light. However, so far, observation of quantum effects has been limited exclusively to cryogenic experiments, and access to the quantum regime at room temperature has remained an elusive goal because the overwhelming amount of thermal motion masks the weak quantum effects. This thesis describes the engineering of a high-performance cavity optomechanical device and presents experimental results showing, for the first time, the broadband effects of quantum back-action at room temperature. The device strongly couples mechanical and optical modes of exceptionally high quality factors to provide a measurement sensitivity $\sim\!10^4$ times below the requirement to resolve the zero-point fluctuations of the mechanical oscillator. The quantum back-action is then observed through the correlations created between the probe light and the motion of the nanomechanical oscillator. A so-called âvariational measurementâ, which detects the transmitted light in a homodyne detector tuned close to the amplitude quadrature, resolves the quantum noise due to these correlations at the level of 10% of the thermal noise over more than an octave of Fourier frequencies around mechanical resonance. Moreover, building on this result, an additional experiment demonstrates the ability to achieve quantum enhanced metrology. In this case, the generated quantum correlations are used to cancel quantum noise in the measurement record, which then leads to an improved relative signal-to-noise ratio in measurements of an external force. In conclusion, the successful observation of broadband quantum behavior on a macroscopic object at room temperature is an important milestone in the field of cavity optomechanics. Specifically, this result heralds the rise of optomechanical systems as a platform for quantum physics at room temperature and shows promise for generation of ponderomotive squeezing in room-temperature interferometers.

Mechanical oscillators are among the most important scientific tools in the modern physics. From the pioneering experiments in 18th by founding fathers of modern physics such as Newton, Hooke and Cavendish to the ground braking experiments in the 21th century where the merge of two massive black holes 1.3 billion light-year away detected on earth by a gravitational wave detectors, the high Q mechanical oscillators were at the core of many monumental experiments in physics. Their ability to couple to many different physical quantities such as mass, charge, acceleration, electro-magnetic forces and optical fields makes them an ideal candidate for sensing applications. In addition, their intrinsically low dissipation rates (¿m) results in reduced coupling to the thermal bath. Since the invention of micro/nano-technology in the second half of the 20th century and ability to control the dimensions at micro and nano-scales, new horizon was opened up for mirco/nanomechanical oscillators. Miniaturization of the mechanical oscillators made them small and stiff enough to be used in our handheld electronics where dozens of mechanical sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes are used in our laptops and smartphones everyday.
Besides these technological advancements, since the beginning of 21th century, a new opportunity for mechanical oscillators emerged: the idea of ¿putting mechanics into quantum mechanics¿ and observing the quantum effects of these massive classical oscillators. Aside from the numerous technical challenges for achieving this goal, two fundamental obstacles has to solved: I) Even the smallest nano-mechanical oscillators still consist of billions of atoms and molecules and are orders of magnitude more massive that the traditional ¿quantum objects¿ such as atoms and molecules. Larger mass results in smaller zero point motion¿the length scale where quantum effects are visible¿which means in order to ¿see¿ these quantum effects, we have to detect smaller displacement than ever before. II) The second challenge is the low frequency of the mechanical oscillators which makes their thermal Brownian energy, orders of magnitude larger than the quantum ground state of the oscillator¿the energy scale where the quantum effects are visible¿as n_th = kBT/h¿>>1 even for a ¿/2¿ ~ 1GHz oscillator at room temperature.
Both of these obstacles, can be seen as the competition between few fundamental rates: thermal decoherence and measurement rate/mechanical frequency. Thermal decoherence is the rate at which the mechanical oscillator exchange phonons ¿ quanta of mechanical energy (h¿)¿ with its thermal environment and is given by ¿decoherence = ¯ n_th*¿m. The first obstacle translates to having the measurement rate being faster than the decoherence rate of the mechanical oscillator, ¿measurement>¿decoherence. This means in order to see the quantum coherent motion of the mechanical oscillator, we have to ¿look¿ at it before it has time to exchange random thermal energy with its environment. In other words, the life time of the quantum states of macroscopic objects are limited by their thermal decoherence rate and we have to interact with the oscillator in this short lifetime. The second obstacle on the other hand, reduces to having the mechanical frequency larger than its thermal decoherence rate, ¿m >¿decoherence. Over the past 15 years, the field of cavity opto-mechanics was very successful in improving the measurement schemes and designing ...