School of Physics & Astronomy, Faculty of Exact sciences
Nonlinear Quantum Nanomechanics
Nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) have officially entered the quantum era, as experimental progress allows the cooling of nanomechanical resonators down to their quantum ground state. This, after many years of effort, is enabling the direct experimental investigation of macroscopic quantum phenomena with actual mechanical devices, touching upon some of the most fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics. At the same time, experiments have mastered the ability to control the nonlinear behavior of nanomechanical resonators. The combination of these two aspects of NEMS is the focus of current research in the group of Prof. Ron Lifshitz. As with much of the study of nanoscale systems, we anticipate that our research will have both a technological impact as well as an impact on fundamental science.
On the technological side, our efforts should uncover the basic physics behind future generations of devices operating in the quantum regime. These devices may include high-precision quantum-limited sensors and frequency references, as well as possibly simple mechanical processors of quantum information. Technological applications are now coming close to exhausting the limits of classical linear phenomena, and need to exploit nonlinearity and quantum effects---this is where our results will eventually come in.
On the fundamental side, nanomechanical resonators demonstrating both quantum effects and nonlinear effects make it now possible to explore questions which could not be addressed previously. For instance, the role of nonlinear dynamics in quantum decoherence, or the characterization of the environmental bath which is most likely much richer than the simple linear bath models created decades ago. Most importantly, we are ready for the surprises which we cannot envision at the moment, and which history tells us to expect.