New Platform Developed to Measure and Exploit Optomechanical Interactions
December 12, 2012
Contact: Kartik Srinivasan or Marcelo Davanço
Researchers from the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology and Caltech have developed a new design platform for measuring and exploiting strong interactions between light confined in a nanoscale structure and an adjacent nanomechanical system.* The versatile platform opens new approaches for fabricating sensitive light detectors and for converting wavelengths for use in quantum information science. Previously, the Caltech team used silicon “optomechanical crystals” in which radiation pressure from light drove mechanical vibrations within a single, doubly-clamped silicon nanobeam. In the new work, the CNST-Caltech collaborators developed a design for observing similar effects in silicon nitride, which has a much broader optical transparency window than silicon, but for which radiation pressure interactions within a single nanobeam are expected to be much weaker.
An important aspect of the new platform is that it enables near-independent design of the optics and the mechanics, so a wide range of new functionalities may be possible. In particular, the team is working on geometries in which two optical beams operating at widely different wavelengths are coupled to a mechanical beam held in-between them. Such devices are expected to enable wideband optical-to-optical and even microwave-to-optical frequency conversion, which would be significant advances in this field.