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NIST mechanical micro-drum cooled to quantum ground state
Date:7/6/2011

be coaxed into the quantum ground state, reported by California researchers last year, the NIST drum has a higher quality factor, so it can hold a beat longer, and it beats at a much slower rate, or lower frequency. As a result, individual packets of energy, or quanta, can be stored 10,000 times longer (about 100 microseconds)long enough to serve as a temporary memory for a quantum computer and a platform for exploring complex mechanical and quantum states. In addition, the drum motion is 40 times greater per quantum, offering the possibility, for instance, of generating larger entangled "cat states"objects that are in two places at once and also entangled, with properties that are linked even at a distancefor tests of theories such as quantum gravity. The NIST apparatus also allows researchers to measure the position of the drum directly, which is useful for force detection, with a precision closer than ever to the ultimate limit allowed by quantum mechanics.

To make engineered bulk objects obey the rules of quantum mechanics, typically observed only in atoms and smaller particles, scientists must lower an object's temperature beyond the reach of conventional refrigeration. The California researchers were able to use a passive cryogenic refrigeration technique to chill their high-frequency device enough to reach the ground state, avoiding the need for specialized techniques.

NIST's drum required the use of "sideband cooling" to reach much colder temperatures, taking advantage of strong interactions between the drum and the microwaves. This is the same idea as laser cooling of individual atoms, first demonstrated at NIST in 1978.*** Now a basic tool of atomic physics worldwide, laser cooling enabled many significant advances by allowing researchers to reduce the vibrational motion of trapped atoms to less than a single quantum. Sideband refers to a collection of light particles (photons) just above or below a specific target fr
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Contact: Laura Ost
laura.ost@nist.gov
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert  

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