The Next Step in Cooling Sound Waves With Laser Light

The Next Step in Cooling Sound Waves With Laser Light

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light have made a significant breakthrough in the cooling of sound waves using laser light, bringing them closer to reaching the quantum ground state of sound. This achievement has the potential to eliminate unwanted noise and has implications for quantum communication systems and future quantum technologies.

Understanding Sound Cooling

In order to reach the quantum ground state of an acoustic wave, the system must be completely cooled, reducing the disturbance caused by acoustic phonons to almost zero. While advances have been made in cooling mechanical vibrations in resonators, cooling optical fibers has been a challenge. However, the Stiller Research Group has made progress in this area by successfully lowering the temperature of a sound wave in an optical fiber by 219 K using laser cooling, a significant improvement over previous attempts.

In their study published in Physical Review Letters, the researchers explain that laser light was crucial in achieving the drastic reduction in temperature. By leveraging the nonlinear optical effect of stimulated Brillouin scattering, the laser light efficiently coupled with the sound waves and cooled the acoustic vibrations. This process created an environment with less thermal noise, which is disruptive to quantum communication systems.

One of the lead authors of the study, Laura Blázquez Martínez, highlights the advantages of glass fibers in this process. Not only do glass fibers have a strong interaction with light waves, but they can also conduct light and sound effectively over long distances. The researchers were able to cool a sound wave extending over the full 50 cm of the fiber’s core, a significant achievement for a system of this kind.

Implications for Quantum Technology

Reaching the quantum ground state in waveguides opens doors to a range of potential applications in quantum technology. The manipulation of long acoustic phonons in this experiment has the potential for broadband applications and represents a significant step towards exploring the quantum behavior of sound. Dr. Birgit Stiller, head of the quantum optoacoustics group, emphasizes the excitement surrounding these results and their potential for gaining deeper insights into the fundamental nature of matter.

Unlike systems that rely on two mirrors, the use of waveguides offers advantages in terms of light and sound propagation. Acoustic waves can exist as a continuum along the waveguide, offering a broader bandwidth and making them promising for high-speed communication systems. By pushing the fibers into the quantum ground state, the researchers anticipate new insights and opportunities for further exploration and development.

The successful cooling of sound waves in waveguides using laser light marks a significant advancement in the field of quantum acoustics. The researchers at the Max Planck Institute have made progress in bridging the gap between classical and quantum mechanics by reducing the disturbance caused by acoustic phonons. This breakthrough opens up new possibilities for quantum communication systems and broadens our understanding of sound’s fundamental nature. With further development, this technology has the potential to revolutionize various industries and pave the way for future quantum technologies.


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