Researchers putting a freeze on oscillator vibrations

June 17, 2009

University of Oregon physicists have successfully landed a one-two punch on a tiny glass sphere, refrigerating it in liquid helium and then dosing its perimeter with a laser beam, to bring its naturally occurring mechanical vibrations to a near standstill.

The findings, published in Nature Physics, could boost advances in information processing that exploits special quantum properties and in precision-measurements for nanotechnology. The ability to freeze mechanical fluctuations, or vibrations, with a laser in so-called optomechanical oscillators, also opens a window on the little-explored transition between quantum and classical physics, said principal investigator Hailin Wang.

Wang, a member of the Oregon Center for Optics and a professor in the UO physics department, and his doctoral student Young-Shin Park performed the research under grants from the National Science Foundation and Army Research Laboratory through the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI).

In nanotechnology, understanding phonons -- vibrations that carry energy -- is becoming increasingly important. For their project, Wang and Park purposely manufactured a deformed silica microsphere about 30 microns in diameter, about the size of a human hair.

A combination of cryogenic pre-cooling of the sphere to 1.4 Kelvin (minus 457.15 degrees Fahrenheit) and hitting the sphere's outer surface with a laser allowed researchers to extract energy from the mechanical oscillator and lower the level of phonon excitations to near 40 quanta. Ultimately, Wang said, the goal is to reduce that level, known as the average phonon occupation, to one quantum.

"Our goal is to get to and work with the quantum mechanical ground state in which there is very little excitation or displacement," Wang said. Reaching one quantum would require a temperature just a few thousandths of a degree from absolute zero (minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit).
Video with Hailin Wang is available at:

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon's flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of the 62 leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. The UO is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Media Contact: Jim Barlow, director of science and research communications, 541-346-3481,

Source: Hailin Wang, professor of physics, UO College of Arts and Sciences, 541-346-4758 or 4807;

University of Oregon

Related Quantum Articles from Brightsurf:

Theoreticians show which quantum systems are suitable for quantum simulations
A joint research group led by Prof. Jens Eisert of Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has shown a way to simulate the quantum physical properties of complex solid state systems.

Quantum shake
There they were, in all their weird quantum glory: ultracold lithium atoms in the optical trap operated by UC Santa Barbara undergraduate student Alec Cao and his colleagues in David Weld's atomic physics group.

New evidence for quantum fluctuations near a quantum critical point in a superconductor
A study has found evidence for quantum fluctuations near a quantum critical point in a superconductor.

Quantum simulation of quantum crystals
International research team describes the new possibilities offered by the use of ultracold dipolar atoms

Quantum machines learn "quantum data"
Skoltech scientists have shown that quantum-enhanced machine learning can be used on quantum (as opposed to classical) data, overcoming a significant slowdown common to these applications and opening a ''fertile ground to develop computational insights into quantum systems''.

Simulating quantum 'time travel' disproves butterfly effect in quantum realm
Using a quantum computer to simulate time travel, researchers have demonstrated that, in the quantum realm, there is no 'butterfly effect.' In the research, information--qubits, or quantum bits--'time travel' into the simulated past.

Orbital engineering of quantum confinement in high-Al-content AlGaN quantum well
Recently, professor Kang's group focus on the limitation of quantum confine band offset model, the hole states delocalization in high-Al-content AlGaN quantum well are understood in terms of orbital intercoupling.

Quantum classifiers with tailored quantum kernel?
Quantum information scientists have introduced a new method for machine learning classifications in quantum computing.

A Metal-like Quantum Gas: A pathbreaking platform for quantum simulation
Coherent and ultrafast laser excitation creates an exotic matter phase with spatially overlapping electronic wave-functions under nanometric control in an artificial micro-crystal of ultracold atoms.

Quantum leap: Photon discovery is a major step toward at-scale quantum technologies
A team of physicists at the University of Bristol has developed the first integrated photon source with the potential to deliver large-scale quantum photonics.

Read More: Quantum News and Quantum Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to