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Optical levitation of particle in vacuum


The 2018 Nobel Prize has been awarded to Arthur Ashkin for his work on optical tweezers. Trough the numerous applications of optical tweezers, the development of vacuum levitated particles has known an active research activity over the last few years. Such an interest can be explained by the important promises of this system, from the study of fundamental interactions [1] to the effect of gravity on quantum systems [2] through the study of thermodynamics at the nanoscale [3,4].

Levitated particle









Optical levitation of a nanodiamond in moderate vacuum

In that context, our group is interested in improving the control on levitated particles with two objectives.

  • First, to extend the particle control to other degrees of freedom than the simple centre of mass motion, such as internal vibrations link to internal temperature, or rotation, the particle has to be coupled to an ancillary system. By trapping diamond nanocrystals hosting a single NV colour centre, i.e. a point defect of diamond, we can use its spin resonance [5] to study internal degrees of freedom of the levitated nanoparticle.
  • Second, to benefit from the control that can be enforced on the environment of levitated particles to address questions related to stochastics dynamics. We are particularly interested in the development of optimal protocols and the transition from the overdamped to the underdamped regime [4].

[1] Gieseler, et al. “Thermal nonlinearities in a nanomechanical oscillator” Nat Phys 9, 806 (2013).
[2] Kaltenbaek, et al. “Macroscopic Quantum Resonators (MAQRO) : 2015 update” EPJ Q. Tech. 3 (2016).
[3] Gieseler et al. ‘Levitated Nanoparticles for Microscopic Thermodynamics - A Review.” Entropy 20, 326 (2018)
[4] Rondin, et al. “Direct measurement of Kramers Turnover with a levitated nanoparticle” Nat Nano. (2017).
[5] Rondin, et al. “Magnetometry with nitrogen-vacancy defects in diamond” Rev. Prog. Phys. (2014).