Quantum micro-mechanics with ultracold atoms

Botter, Thierry
Brooks, Daniel
Gupta, Subhadeep
Ma, Zhao-Yuan
Moore, Kevin L.
Murch, Kater W.
Purdy, Tom P.
Stamper-Kurn, Dan M.
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In many experiments isolated atoms and ions have been inserted into high-finesse optical resonators for the study of fundamental quantum optics and quantum information. Here, we introduce another application of such a system, as the realization of cavity optomechanics where the collective motion of an atomic ensemble serves the role of a moveable optical element in an optical resonator. Compared with other optomechanical systems, such as those incorporating nanofabricated cantilevers or the large cavity mirrors of gravitational observatories, our cold-atom realization offers direct access to the quantum regime. We describe experimental investigations of optomechanical effects, such as the bistability of collective atomic motion and the first quantification of measurement backaction for a macroscopic object, and discuss future directions for this nascent field.
Comment: Proceedings of International Conference on Atomic Physics (ICAP) 2008
Quantum Physics