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Acceleration Sensing, Feedback Cooling, and Nonlinear Dynamics with Nanoscale Cavity-Optomechanical Devices


Krause, Alexander Grey (2015) Acceleration Sensing, Feedback Cooling, and Nonlinear Dynamics with Nanoscale Cavity-Optomechanical Devices. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z98K771J.


Light has long been used for the precise measurement of moving bodies, but the burgeoning field of optomechanics is concerned with the interaction of light and matter in a regime where the typically weak radiation pressure force of light is able to push back on the moving object. This field began with the realization in the late 1960's that the momentum imparted by a recoiling photon on a mirror would place fundamental limits on the smallest measurable displacement of that mirror. This coupling between the frequency of light and the motion of a mechanical object does much more than simply add noise, however. It has been used to cool objects to their quantum ground state, demonstrate electromagnetically-induced-transparency, and modify the damping and spring constant of the resonator. Amazingly, these radiation pressure effects have now been demonstrated in systems ranging 18 orders of magnitude in mass (kg to fg).

In this work we will focus on three diverse experiments in three different optomechanical devices which span the fields of inertial sensors, closed-loop feedback, and nonlinear dynamics. The mechanical elements presented cover 6 orders of magnitude in mass (ng to fg), but they all employ nano-scale photonic crystals to trap light and resonantly enhance the light-matter interaction. In the first experiment we take advantage of the sub-femtometer displacement resolution of our photonic crystals to demonstrate a sensitive chip-scale optical accelerometer with a kHz-frequency mechanical resonator. This sensor has a noise density of approximately 10 micro-g/rt-Hz over a useable bandwidth of approximately 20 kHz and we demonstrate at least 50 dB of linear dynamic sensor range. We also discuss methods to further improve performance of this device by a factor of 10.

In the second experiment, we used a closed-loop measurement and feedback system to damp and cool a room-temperature MHz-frequency mechanical oscillator from a phonon occupation of 6.5 million down to just 66. At the time of the experiment, this represented a world-record result for the laser cooling of a macroscopic mechanical element without the aid of cryogenic pre-cooling. Furthermore, this closed-loop damping yields a high-resolution force sensor with a practical bandwidth of 200 kHZ and the method has applications to other optomechanical sensors.

The final experiment contains results from a GHz-frequency mechanical resonator in a regime where the nonlinearity of the radiation-pressure interaction dominates the system dynamics. In this device we show self-oscillations of the mechanical element that are driven by multi-photon-phonon scattering. Control of the system allows us to initialize the mechanical oscillator into a stable high-amplitude attractor which would otherwise be inaccessible. To provide context, we begin this work by first presenting an intuitive overview of optomechanical systems and then providing an extended discussion of the principles underlying the design and fabrication of our optomechanical devices.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Optomechanics; photonics; phononics; optomechanical; quantum; accelerometer; nonlinear; feedback
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Painter, Oskar J.
Group:IQIM, Institute for Quantum Information and Matter
Thesis Committee:
  • Painter, Oskar J. (chair)
  • Vahala, Kerry J.
  • Chen, Yanbei
  • Faraon, Andrei
Defense Date:4 February 2015
Non-Caltech Author Email:a19grey (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:01162015-120819334
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8754
Deposited By: Alexander Krause
Deposited On:27 Feb 2015 18:07
Last Modified:03 Aug 2017 19:35

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