Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Caltech Scientists Create Nanoscale Zipper Cavity that Responds to Single Photons of Light

Scanning electron microscope image of an array of "zipper" optomechanical cavities. The scale and sensitivity of the device is set by its physical mass (40 picograms/40 trillionths of a gram) and the nanoscale gap between the two nanobeams (100 nanometers/100 billionths of a meter).
[Credit: Caltech/Matt Eichenfield and Jasper Chan]
Scanning electron microscope image of an array of "zipper" optomechanical cavities. The scale and sensitivity of the device is set by its physical mass (40 picograms/40 trillionths of a gram) and the nanoscale gap between the two nanobeams (100 nanometers/100 billionths of a meter). [Credit: Caltech/Matt Eichenfield and Jasper Chan]

Abstract:
Device could be used for highly sensitive force detection, optical communications, and more

Caltech Scientists Create Nanoscale Zipper Cavity that Responds to Single Photons of Light

Pasadena, CA | Posted on June 8th, 2009

Physicists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a nanoscale device that can be used for force detection, optical communication, and more. The device exploits the mechanical properties of light to create an optomechanical cavity in which interactions between light and motion are greatly strengthened and enhanced. These interactions, notes Oskar Painter, associate professor of applied physics at Caltech, and the principal investigator on the research, are the largest demonstrated to date.

The device and the work that led to it are described in a recent issue of the journal Nature.

The fact that photons of light, despite having no mass, nonetheless carry momentum and can interact with mechanical objects is an idea that dates back to Kepler and Newton. The mechanical properties of light are also known to limit the precision with which one can measure an object's position, since simply by using light to do the measurement, you apply a force and disturb the object.

It was important to consider these so-called back-action effects in the design of devices to measure weak, classical forces. Such considerations were part of the development of gravity-wave detectors like the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). These sorts of interferometer-based detectors have also been used at much smaller scales, in scanning probe instruments used to detect or image atomic surfaces or even single electron spins.

To get an idea of how these systems work, consider a mirror attached to a floppy cantilever, or spring. The cantilever is designed to respond to a particular force-say, a magnetic field. Light shining down on the mirror will be deflected when the force is detected-i.e., when the cantilever moves-resulting in a variation in the light beam's intensity that can then be detected and recorded.

"LIGO is a huge multikilometer-scale interferometer," notes Painter. "What we did was to take that and scale it all the way down to the size of the wavelength of light itself, creating a nanoscale device."

They did this, he explains, because as these interferometer-based detectors are scaled down, the mechanical properties of light become more pronounced, and interesting interactions between light and mechanics can be explored.

"To this end, we made our cantilevers many, many times smaller, and made the optical interaction many, many times larger," explains Painter.

They call this nanoscale device a zipper cavity because of the way its dual cantilevers-or nanobeams, as Painter calls them-move together and apart when the device is in use. "If you look at it, it actually looks like a zipper," Painter notes.

"Zipper structures break new ground on coupling photonics with micromechanics, and can impact the way we measure motion, even into the quantum realm," adds Kerry Vahala, Caltech's Ted and Ginger Jenkins Professor of Information Science and Technology and professor of applied physics, and one of the paper's authors. "The method embodied in the zipper design also suggests new microfabrication design pathways that can speed advances in the subject of cavity optomechanics as a whole."

To create their zipper cavity device, the researchers made two nanobeams from a silicon chip, poking holes through the beams to form an effective optical mirror. Instead of training a light down onto the nanobeams, the researchers used optical fibers to send the light "in plane down the length of the beams," says Painter. The holes in the nanobeams intercept some of the photons, circulating them through the cavity between the beams rather than allowing them to travel straight through the device.

Or, to be more precise, the circulating photons actually create the cavity between the beams. As Painter puts it: "The mechanical rigidity of the structure and the changes in its optical response are predominantly governed by the internal light field itself."

Such an interaction is possible, he adds, because the structure is precisely designed to maximize the transfer of momentum from the input laser's photons to the mechanical nanobeams. Indeed, a single photon of laser light zipping through this structure produces a force equivalent to 10 times that of Earth's gravity. With the addition of several thousand photons to the cavity, the nanobeams are effectively suspended by the laser light.

Changes in the intensity and other properties of the light as it moves along the beams to the far end of the chip can be detected and recorded, just as with any large-scale interferometer.

The potential uses for this sort of optomechanical zipper cavity are myriad. It could be used as a sensor in biology by coating it with a solution that would bind to, say, a specific protein molecule that might be found in a sample. The binding of the protein molecule to the device would add mass to the nanobeams, and thus change the properties of the light traveling through them, signaling that such a molecule had been detected. Similarly, it could be used to detect other ultrasmall physical forces, Painter adds.

Zipper cavities could also be used in optical communications, where circuits route information via optical beams of different colors, i.e., wavelengths. "You could control and manipulate what the optical beams of light are doing," notes Painter. "As the optical signals moved around in a circuit, their direction or color could be manipulated via other control light fields." This would create tunable photonics, "optical circuits that can be tuned with light."

Additionally, the zipper cavity could lead to applications in RF-over-optical communications and microwave photonics as well, where a laser source is modulated at microwave frequencies, allowing the signals to travel for kilometers along optical fibers. In such systems, the high-frequency mechanical vibrations of the zipper cavity could be used to filter and recover the RF or microwave signal riding on the optical wave.

Other authors on the Nature paper, "A picogram- and nanometre-scale photonic-crystal optomechanical cavity," include graduate students Matt Eichenfield (the paper's first author) and Jasper Chan, and postdoctoral scholar Ryan Camacho.

Their research was supported by a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency seeding effort, and an Emerging Models and Technologies grant from the National Science Foundation.

####

About Caltech
The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Lori Oliwenstein
(626) 395-3631

Copyright © Caltech

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Roll up your screen and stow it away? Tel Aviv University researchers develop molecular backbone of super-slim, bendable digital displays March 30th, 2015

Princess Margaret scientists convert microbubbles to nanoparticles: Harnessing light to advance tumor imaging, provide platform for targeted treatment March 30th, 2015

Wrapping carbon nanotubes in polymers enhances their performance: Scientists at Japan's Kyushu University say polymer-wrapped carbon nanotubes hold much promise in biotechnology and energy applications March 30th, 2015

Tokyo Institute of Technology research: Catalyst redefines rate limitations in ammonia production March 30th, 2015

Next important step toward quantum computer: Scientists at the University of Bonn have succeeded in linking 2 different quantum systems March 30th, 2015

Physics

Next important step toward quantum computer: Scientists at the University of Bonn have succeeded in linking 2 different quantum systems March 30th, 2015

A first glimpse inside a macroscopic quantum state March 28th, 2015

Using magnetic fields to understand high-temperature superconductivity: Los Alamos explores experimental path to potential 'next theory of superconductivity' March 27th, 2015

Possible Futures

Nanotechnology in Medical Devices Market is expected to reach $8.5 Billion by 2019 March 25th, 2015

Nanotechnology Enabled Drug Delivery to Influence Future Diagnosis and Treatments of Diseases March 21st, 2015

Nanocomposites Market Growth, Industry Outlook To 2020 by Grand View Research, Inc. March 21st, 2015

Nanotechnology Drug Delivery Market in the US 2012-2016 : Latest Report Available by Radiant Insights, Inc March 16th, 2015

Sensors

UW scientists build a nanolaser using a single atomic sheet March 24th, 2015

Iranian Researchers Present Model to Determine Dynamic Behavior of Nanostructures March 24th, 2015

Nanodevice Invented in Iran to Detect Hydrogen Sulfide in Oil, Gas Industry March 20th, 2015

LamdaGen Corporation Launches Taiwan Diagnostic Subsidiary March 19th, 2015

Announcements

Princess Margaret scientists convert microbubbles to nanoparticles: Harnessing light to advance tumor imaging, provide platform for targeted treatment March 30th, 2015

Wrapping carbon nanotubes in polymers enhances their performance: Scientists at Japan's Kyushu University say polymer-wrapped carbon nanotubes hold much promise in biotechnology and energy applications March 30th, 2015

Tokyo Institute of Technology research: Catalyst redefines rate limitations in ammonia production March 30th, 2015

Next important step toward quantum computer: Scientists at the University of Bonn have succeeded in linking 2 different quantum systems March 30th, 2015

Nanobiotechnology

Wrapping carbon nanotubes in polymers enhances their performance: Scientists at Japan's Kyushu University say polymer-wrapped carbon nanotubes hold much promise in biotechnology and energy applications March 30th, 2015

'Atomic chicken-wire' is key to faster DNA sequencing March 30th, 2015

Designer's toolkit for dynamic DNA nanomachines: Arm-waving nanorobot signals new flexibility in DNA origami March 27th, 2015

Dolomite’s microfluidics technology ideal for B cell encapsulation March 24th, 2015

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Next important step toward quantum computer: Scientists at the University of Bonn have succeeded in linking 2 different quantum systems March 30th, 2015

Solving molybdenum disulfide's 'thin' problem: Research team increases material's light emission by twelve times March 29th, 2015

A first glimpse inside a macroscopic quantum state March 28th, 2015

Chemists make new silicon-based nanomaterials March 27th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE