Lecture: Prospects for using levitated optomechanics to test quantum mechanics and gravity

27.10.2016, 14:00

Professor Hendrik Ulbricht, University of Southampton, UK


Library, MPL, Staudtstr. 2, 91058 Erlangen


We will discuss our trapping and cooling experiments of optically levitated nanoparticles [1]. We will report on the cooling of all translational motional degrees of freedom of a single trapped silica particle to 1mK simultaneously at vacuum of 10-5 mbar using a parabolic mirror to form the optical trap. We will further report on the squeezing of a thermal motional state of the trapped particle by rapid switch of the trap frequency [2].

We will further discuss ideas to experimentally test quantum mechanics by means of collapse models [3] by both matter-wave interferometry [4] and non-interferometric methods [5]. While first experimental bounds by non-interferometric tests have been achieved during the last year by a number of different experiments according to our idea [4], we at Southampton work on setting up the Nanoparticle Talbot Interferometer (NaTalI) to test the quantum superposition principle directly for 1 million atomic mass unit (amu) particles.

We will further discuss some ideas to probe the interplay between quantum mechanics and gravitation by (levitated) optomechanics experiments. One idea is to seek first experimental evidence about the fundamentally quantum or classical nature of gravity by using the torsional motion of a non-spherical trapped particle, while a second idea is to test the effect of the gravity related shift of energy levels of the mechanical harmonic oscillator, which is predicted by semi-classical gravity (the so-called Schrdinger-Newton equation) [6].


[1] Vovrosh, J., M. Rashid, D. Hempston, J. Bateman, and H. Ulbricht, Controlling the Motion of a Nanoparticle Trapped in Vacuum, arXiv:1603.02917 (2016).

[2] Rashid, M., T. Tufarelli, J. Bateman, J. Vovrosh, D. Hempston,M. S. Kim, and H. Ulbricht, Experimental Realisation of a Thermal Squeezed State of Levitated Optomechanics, arXiv:1607.05509 (2016).

[3] Bassi, A., K. Lochan, S. Satin, T.P. Singh, and H. Ulbricht, Models of Wave-function Collapse, Underlying Theories, and Experimental Tests, Rev. Mod. Phys. 85, 471 - 527 (2013);

[4] Bateman, J., S. Nimmrichter, K. Hornberger, and H. Ulbricht, Near-field interferometry of a free-falling nanoparticle from a point-like source, Nat. Com. 5, 4788 (2014); Wan, C., et al. Free Nano-Object Ramsey Interferometry for Large Quantum Superpositions, Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 143003 (2016).

[5] Bahrami, M., M. Paternostro, A. Bassi, and H. Ulbricht, Non-interferometric Test of Collapse Models in Optomechanical Systems, Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 210404 (2014); Bera, S., B. Motwani, T.P. Singh, and H. Ulbricht, A proposal for the experimental detection of CSL induced random walk, Sci. Rep. 5, 7664 (2015).


[6] Grossardt, A., J. Bateman, H. Ulbricht, and A. Bassi, Optomechanical test of the Schroedinger-Newton equation, Phys. Rev. D 93, 096003 (2016).