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Aug 19th, 2013
MEMS Nixes quantum light fluctuations
Micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) resonators were recently harnessed to cancel the tiniest quantum fluctuations in laser light.
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This could enable a new generation of ultra-precise measurement instruments.

Created in the lab of California Institute of Technology professor Oskar Painter, this Caltech research is the first demonstration of so-called squeezed light produced by standard silicon MEMS.

Laser metrology enables some of the most accurate measurement instruments in the world, but when it comes to the most sensitive scientific applications, raw lasers have inherent fluctuations in their waveforms that need to be quieted. Called quantum fluctuations, they are ever-present, even in lasers traveling through a vacuum. Now Painter and colleagues have engineered a silicon MEMS device that squeezes those fluctuations out, producing a light that is even purer than light traveling in a vacuum.

Squeezed light has the distinct advantage of allowing very precise measurements to be made at extremely low power levels, compared to ordinary light. And because this squeezed light is being produced on a silicon chip, it should have a variety of applications in ultra-sensitive solid-state sensors.

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