Measuring nanomechanical motion with an imprecision below the standard quantum limit
We report a room-temperature measurement of nanomechanical motion with an imprecision below the standard quantum limit (SQL), using cavity-enhanced optical near fields. Fundamental thermodynamical cavity frequency fluctuation limits the total imprecision to 3 dB below the SQL at room temperature [corresponding to (530 am/root Hz)(2) in absolute units] and is expected to reduce to negligible values at moderate cryogenic temperatures. Coupling strengths exceeding those required to reach the SQL by more than two orders of magnitude are achieved, allowing a shot-noise limited imprecision more than 10 dB below the SQL. The transducer, thus, in principle, allows access to the quantum backaction dominated regime, a prerequisite for exploring quantum backaction, measurement-induced squeezing, and obtaining sub-SQL sensitivity using backaction evading techniques.