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A nano-optomechanical cascade

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Light travelling on a chip connects a chain of distant nanomechanical oscillators. Thanks to this optical link, all oscillators collectively lock to adopt the same frequency.

In a nano-optomechanical system, light interacts with a nanomechanical element, enabling full optical control of its state of motion. After a few years of existence, these systems are now well developed and the new frontier consists in coupling several of them in order to explore collective phenomena. Made out of multiple resonators connected by optical links, collective nano-optomechanical architectures would form the basis for optical/mechanical simulators and topological structures for light and vibrations.

In a work by researchers at the Matériaux et Phénomènes Quantiques lab, an elementary form of collective nano-optomechanical architecture was created, controlled experimentally and modeled. Infrared light, at the telecommunication wavelength, propagated on a semiconductor photonic chip where several nanomechanical elements oscillated at very high frequency in the gigahertz range (billions of oscillations per second). After interaction with a first oscillator, light travelled to the second, and next to the third … eventually generating a cascade of optical interactions between distant mechanical systems. As a result, the chiral chain of mechanical oscillators transited to a locked-state where it oscillated at a common frequency. These results made the cover of Physical Review Letters (10th of February 2017 issue) [1].

While simple and classical in the present form, complex and quantum nano-optomechanical architectures might be at reach soon, notably thanks to a new technique of collective spectral alignment of resonators, recently discovered by the team [2].

Figure :
Illustration of an optomechanical cascade consisting of three disk resonators positioned along a common optical waveguide where light travels unidirectionally. The square-shaped anchors hold the waveguide, but play no optomechanical part. Each disk resonator supports an optical whispering gallery mode, and a radial breathing mechanical mode. The cascade is optically pumped from the left. Light is injected into the first disk and interacts with its mechanical motion. The optical output of the first disk results from this interaction, and is propagated to the second resonator, where a similar interaction occurs. The optical output of the second disk is finally propagated to the third.

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Référence :
[1] Light-Mediated Cascaded Locking of Multiple Nano-Optomechanical Oscillators, E. Gil-Santos, M. Labousse, C. Baker, A. Goetschy, W. Hease, C. Gomez, A. Lemaître, G. Leo, C. Ciuti, and I. Favero, Physical Review Letters 118, 063605 (2017).
[2] Scalable high-precision tuning of photonic resonators by resonant cavity-enhanced photoelectrochemical etching, E. Gil-Santos, C. Baker, A. Lemaître, C. Gomez, S. Ducci, G. Leo and I. Favero, Nature Communications 8, 14267 (2017).