Harnessing vacuum forces for quantum sensing of graphene motion

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Christine A. Muschik, Simon Moulieras, Maciej Lewenstein, Frank Koppens, Darrick Chang


arXiv:1304.8090 [quant-ph]

The existence of vacuum forces is one of the most striking consequences of quantum mechanics. We show how the strong potentials induced by vacuum fluctuations can be exploited in a practical scheme for quantum sensing. Position measurements at the quantum level are of central importance for many applications but very challenging. Typically, methods based on optical forces are used, but these are generally weak and difficult to apply to many materials. An important example is graphene, which is an excellent mechanical resonator due to its low mass and whose unique properties render it an outstanding platform for nanotechnologies. We describe a protocol wherein quantum vacuum potentials yield a strong dispersive interaction between the displacement of a graphene nanomechanical resonator and a nearby quantum optical emitter. This interaction yields a large position-dependent shift in the transition frequency of the emitter, which can be read out via an optical field. Under realistic conditions, we show that this mechanism enables strong quantum squeezing of the graphene position on time scales short compared to the mechanical period.