Measurements and applications of mechanical motion in the quantum limit

Erno Damskägg

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Microscopic systems exhibit many intriguing quantum mechanical phenomena which cannot be explained by classical physics. Quantum mechanics has succesfully explained the behaviour of subatomic particles, atoms, and electromagnetic waves where entanglement, wave-particle duality and superposition of particles has been observed. In macroscopic scales, quantum mechanics explains the microscopic origin of electronic properties of solids, and quantum coherence effects are routinely observed in superfluids and superconductors. However, most macroscopic objects behave according to the laws of classical physics due to decoherence effects caused by interaction with the environment. Mechanical systems are ideal for studying quantum behavior of macroscopic objects as they can be measured with high accuracy, and their interaction with the environment can be controlled. Cavity optomechanics studies the interaction between light and mechanical objects through radiation pressure force. Recent developments in the field have made it possible to study quantum behaviour in macroscopic mechanical objects. For example, mechanical oscillators coupled to either microwave or optical light have been cooled to their quantum ground state. This thesis studies a cavity optomechanical system in which micromechanical aluminium membrane resonator is coupled to a superconducting microwave circuit resonator. This work focuses on the phenomena relating to the Heisenberg's uncertainty principle which sets a fundamental limit to the precision in which certain pairs of properties of a system can be measured. Due to uncertainty principle, even if a harmonic oscillator is cooled to the ground state, it still has random motion called the zero-point motion. This sets a fundamental limit on how accurately one can measure the motion of the resonator. In a squeezed quantum state, fluctuations of a quantity can be reduced below this quantum limit, at the cost of increased fluctuations in the pair variable. In this work, motion of a nearly macroscopic object is measured in a squeezed state. Due to uncertainty principle, a measurement amplifying an oscillatory signal always adds noise. However, when information in one part of the signal is lost, one can amplify and measure the other part perfectly. This kind of nearly noiseless phase-sensitive measurement, and squeezing of microwave fields is demonstrated in this work. An optomechanical device that simultaneously performs high-gain amplification and frequency conversion is created. Collective dynamics of a multimode optomechanical system is studied. When measuring the oscillator position continuously, the system is perturbed by the measuring. This can be avoided in quantum back-action evading measurement, which is demonstrated for collective motion of two mechanical resonators. Finally, an entanglement of centre-of-mass motion of two nearly macroscopic objects is created and stabilised.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Sillanpää, Mika, Supervisor
  • Sillanpää, Mika, Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7953-0
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7954-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • optomechanics
  • mechanical resonators
  • quantum limit
  • entanglement

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