Quantum correlations from a room-temperature optomechanical cavity

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Abstract

The act of position measurement alters the motion of an object being measured. This quantum measurement backaction is typically much smaller than the thermal motion of a room-temperature object and thus difficult to observe. By shining laser light through a nanomechanical beam, we measure the beam’s thermally driven vibrations and perturb its motion with optical force fluctuations at a level dictated by the Heisenberg measurement-disturbance uncertainty relation. We demonstrate a cross-correlation technique to distinguish optically driven motion from thermally driven motion, observing this quantum backaction signature up to room temperature. We use the scale of the quantum correlations, which is determined by fundamental constants, to gauge the size of thermal motion, demonstrating a path toward absolute thermometry with quantum mechanically calibrated ticks.

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