Mirror Image Pinpoints a Nanoparticle’s Position

Mirror Image Pinpoints a Nanoparticle’s Position

• Physics 15, s89

A scattered laser beam’s interplay with itself creates a motion-detection methodology exact sufficient to find out whether or not a trapped particle is in its floor state.

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Quantum Interfaces Group, University of Innsbruck

Recently, researchers lowered the movement of a nanoparticle suspended in an optical lure virtually to its quantum floor state (see Synopsis: Levitated Nanoparticle Goes Quantum). Particles with such low “center-of-mass temperatures” provide a long-sought platform for finding out the quantum habits of macroscopic objects and for performing varied sensing duties. But reaching this quantum regime stays out of attain for particles confined in electrical or magnetic ion traps as a result of the restricted optical entry in such experiments makes detecting the particles’ slightest movement difficult. To resolve that drawback, Lorenzo Dania, on the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and his colleagues have launched a brand new method for measuring the place of a levitated nanoparticle in an ion lure [1]. Their methodology, which detects the particle’s place relative to its mirror picture, outperforms present state-of-the-art detection strategies.

The group loaded a 300-nm-diameter silica sphere into a regular electrical lure located between a movable mirror and a photodetector and illuminated it with a laser beam. Light scattered by the particle may take two pathways: a direct one to the detector and an oblique one by way of reflection off the mirror. Those two pathways created an interference sign that, when captured by the photodetector, exactly encoded the particle’s place. Compared to a regular motion-detection methodology primarily based on direct transmission of impartial laser beams, the self-interference sign confirmed a 38-dB-higher signal-to-noise ratio. This enchancment makes it potential to establish actions of the particle that may have in any other case been drowned in noise.

By permitting a particle in {an electrical} or magnetic lure to be cooled to its quantum floor state, the outcome may allow quantum experiments with macroscopic objects in an setting freed from light-induced disturbances.

–Rachel Berkowitz

Rachel Berkowitz is a Corresponding Editor for Physics Magazine primarily based in Vancouver, Canada.


  1. L. Dania et al., “Position measurement of a levitated nanoparticle via interference with its mirror image,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 129, 013601 (2022).

Subject Areas

Quantum PhysicsOptoelectronics

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