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Camerer, Stephan (2011): Interfacing ultracold atoms and mechanical oscillators. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty of Physics
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Abstract

In this thesis I present experiments investigating controlled coupling between mechanical oscillators and ultracold atoms. I report on three different coupling mechanisms. In a first experiment, the surface potential experienced by atoms close to the mechanical oscillator is employed to couple the oscillator motion to the center of mass (COM) motion of a trapped Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). The magnetic trapping potential is modified by the surface potential arising from the oscillator surface which results in a reduced trap depth. Vibration of the oscillator leads to a modulation of the trap frequency and the minimum of the trapping potential. Observing the loss of atoms from the BEC allows us to read out the amplitude of the mechanical oscillator with the atoms. In a second experiment, we study the coupling of a mechanical membrane oscillator and thermal atoms trapped in a 1D optical lattice. The membrane is the end mirror of the lattice, and oscillation of the membrane couples to the COM mode of the atomic ensemble. Conversely, the center of mass motion of the atomic ensemble redistributes photons between the two running waves forming the 1D optical lattice, effectively modulating their power, and hence the radiation pressure acting onto the membrane. We observe the action of the oscillating membrane onto the atoms by detecting the resulting temperature increase of the atomic ensemble in absorption imaging. To observe the backaction of the atoms onto the mechanical oscillator, the mechanical damping is measured in experiments with and without atoms in the lattice, and we measure higher damping in the presence of atoms in agreement with the theoretical predictions. These experiments are the first demonstration of backaction of an atomic system onto a mechanical oscillator. We investigate a third coupling mechanism, where the motion of a mechanical oscillator is coupled to the collective spin of a BEC. The tip of a mechanical oscillator is functionalized with a magnet, which transduces the oscillators' motion into oscillations of the magnetic field. This drives spin-flip transitions of trapped atoms to untrapped motional states. The coupling strength is not limited by the square root of the mass ratio of atoms and oscillator as in the other coupling schemes discussed in this thesis. We investigate this coupling scheme theoretically, and discuss the realization of a nanometer-sized mechanical oscillator with a magnetic island. I report on the status of the fabrication, and propose a simplified fabrication method.