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Title: Quantum superposition on nano-mechanical oscillator
Author: Wan, Chuanqi
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2018
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The probing of the quantum nature of a macroscopic object is an open problem. Approaches in preparing quantum superposition towards a larger scale, which has been progressively accessible in a variety of experimental implementations, may detect new physics or extend the boundary of quantum theory. Development on a nano-mechanical system in the framework of quantum optics and information theory has opened new research directions. It paves ways to manipulate the wavefunction of a massive particle over a large spatial range and probe its quantum behavior to an unprecedented precision. In this thesis, quantum superposition on a mechanical system is studied theoretically in the light of possible implementations under current techniques in order to test superposition principle and the quantum nature of gravity in the mesoscopic region. The work includes two lines of study. In the first line, the motion of the center of mass (c.m.) of the mechanical system is coupled to its internal spin system magnetically, and a Ramsey scheme is developed based on coherent spin control. The wavepacket of the test object, under a spin-dependent force, may then be delocalized to a macroscopic scale. A gravity induced dynamical phase (accrued solely on the spin state, and measured through a Ramsey scheme) is used to reveal the above spatially delocalized superposition of the spin-nano-object composite system that arises during the scheme. A remarkable immunity to the motional noise in the c.m. (initially in a thermal state with moderate cooling) and also a dynamical decoupling nature of the scheme itself is revealed. A careful examination of the perturbation effect due to setup imperfection and environment-induced decoherence is performed, which shows that the Ramsey fringes have a high tolerance on those unwanted faults under realistic experimental conditions. The scheme also facilitates a gravimetry protocol that potentially could be developed for a novel on-chip gravimeter with a precision of $10^{-6}g/\sqrt{\text{Hz}}$. In the second line, an opto-mechanical experiment is proposed to entangle the motion of two mechanical oscillators through their mutual gravitational interaction. The feasibility of such an experiment is critically examined within the framework of cavity optomechanics. It is shown that within the decoherence time of mechanical noise and potentially gravitational induced state collapse, entanglement between mirrors could be obtained when the initial state of the cavity field is prepared in some particular states. Strategies that give enhancement to entanglement generation rate are studied in light of quantum estimation theory. It is shown that for a cavity initially in a coherent state, the resulting entanglement generation rate would be enhanced linearly with the amplitude of the coherent state. Lastly, it shows that in the proposed setup Casimir effect would significantly affect the gravity-induced entanglement. A proper shield can eliminate the detrimental effect of Casimir force, which, however, will constrain the closest distance between the mirrors in its implementation.
Supervisor: Kim, Myungshik Sponsor: Imperial College London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral