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Micro- and Nano- Mechanical Systems


Micro- and nano-optomechanical systems are being investigated experimentally to bring these systems toward the quantum limit, study quantum behavior in these macroscopic systems and explore applications in quantum science and measurement.


We are interested in studying and controlling micro- and nano-optomechanical systems. Due to their high resonance frequencies, it is possible to cool vibrational modes of nanomechanical systems nearly to the quantum ground state.  We are constructing micromechanical devices at the nanofabrication facility at NIST and are exploring various approaches to optically couple energy in and out of them, including the use of radiation pressure and embedded quantum dots. We are particularly interested in observing quantum behavior in such systems. 

Key activities:                                               

*Exploring the interaction of surface acoustic waves with self-assembled quantum dots to characterize quantum dots as nanoscale motion sensors.  Our goal is to embed quantum dots into nanomechanical resonators and perform laser cooling or feedback cooling to bring them near the quantum zero-point of motion.

*Exploring various approaches to couple micromechanical systems to optical cavities in order to optically monitor, cool, and control their motion.  This work includes fabricating novel mechanically compliant, high-reflectivity mirrors in the NIST nanofabrication facility.  Once again, our goal is to bring these systems into the quantum regime.

*Exploring other uses of surface acoustic waves in conjunction with self-assembled quantum dots, including the generation of entangled photon pairs

Start Date:

October 19, 2010

Lead Organizational Unit:


For Technical Inquiries:

John Lawall, NIST Staff
100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8423
Bldg 217/ A229
Gaithersburg, MD 20899

301-975-3226 Telephone
301-975-5485 Facsimile
Mathieu Durand, Guest Researcher (DIV 697)
Utku Kemiktarak, Guest Researcher
Michael Metcalfe, Guest Researcher