Dissipation as a resource in circuit quantum electromechanics

A primary challenge in quantum science and technology is to isolate the fragile quantum states from their environment in order to prevent the irreversible leakage of energy and information which causes decoherence. In the late 1990s, however, a new paradigm emerged, in which the environment itself, as well as the coupling to this environment of the quantum state, are engineered in ways which, counterintuitively, facilitate the creation and stabilization of desired quantum properties. This paradigm, coined reservoir engineering, has been pursued experimentally in various implementations, in which the states of trapped ions, atomic clouds or artificial atoms based on superconducting circuits were driven into a desired target state using a dissipative reservoir. In all these cases, the cold electromagnetic environment served as the engineered reservoir, capitalizing on the tremendous progress in the ability to shape the modes of the electromagnetic field using masers and lasers. In optomechanics, which is the study of the coupling between light and mechanical motion, a similar scenario has been prevalent. Light is used to read out and control the mechanical motion, and in the past few years, various optomechanical architectures both in the optical and microwave domain have enabled to push mechanical systems into the quantum regime. These results can be interpreted in the context of reservoir engineering: cooling and many other optomechanical phenomena exploit the cold, dissipative nature of light. This thesis reports on the development of a multimode superconducting circuit with a mechanically compliant element - fitting into the field of circuit cavity electromechanics -, with which we pursue two themes. In the first set of experiments, reversing the roles of dissipation described above, we engineer the mechanical oscillator into a cold, dissipative environment for microwave light. The mechanical element is the fundamental mode of a free-standing top electrode of a capacitor, 100 nm thick and 32 micron in diameter made of aluminum with an effective mass of around 170 pg, vibrating at a resonance frequency of 5.5 MHz. The dissipative mechanical reservoir is prepared using an auxiliary microwave mode with engineered parameters.We utilize it to control the properties - in particular, the susceptibility - of the electromagnetic field and to perform low-noise amplification close to the quantum limit. The noise analysis reveals that the reservoir is close to its quantum ground state with a mean thermal occupation number well below 1, demonstrating its utility as a resource in the quantum regime. We also show that the system can be driven to the parametric instability threshold, above which self-sustained oscillations of the microwave field (masing) is observed. Finally, we demonstrate injection locking of the maser using an external seed pump. In a second set of experiments, a similar electromechanical circuit is used to implement a microwave isolator based on optomechanical interactions. The overarching theme is that dissipation of the mechanical oscillator, albeit intrinsic and not engineered via an auxiliary mode s a key ingredient for the device to function as a nonreciprocal frequency converter and isolator. In these experiments, an additional mechanical mode is used, such that a 4-mode optomechanical plaquette is realized.

Kippenberg, Tobias
Feofanov, Olexiy
Lausanne, EPFL

 Record created 2018-06-05, last modified 2018-06-12

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