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GaAs Nano-OptoMechanical Systems

Final Report Summary - GANOMS (GaAs Nano-OptoMechanical Systems)

GANOMS was an experimental research project on nano-optomechanical systems: nanoscale systems in which light and mechanical motion are mutually interacting.

Nanoscale mechanical devices can probe forces in local physical environments with an extreme sensitivity and speed. Controlling them with light, one combines these assets with those of optical techniques: precision, bandwidth and quantum-limited detection. New sensing devices can emerge from these researches, whose level of performance will only be set by quantum effects ruling the microscopic world. In chemistry or biology, these devices may unravel aspects of physical interactions that had remained invisible.

GANOMS focused on semiconductor-based nano-optomechanical systems, because they are compliant with dense on-chip integration, like employed in portable optoeletronics.

Despite a growing interest in such systems, there was a lack of understanding about the physical processes that damp their optical and mechanical energy. Ganoms answered these questions in detail, developing a complete physical picture and proposing techniques to better control these processes. It then brought a series of proofs of principles about the capabilities of nano-optomechanical systems, demonstrating improved force sensing in model experiments, operating the devices directly in complex liquid environments, or connecting multiple devices on a common chip to implement collective functionalities. Finally the project proposed a convergence between optoelectronics and optomechanical technologies, taking advantage of engineered electronic states in semiconductor devices to enhance the efficiency of optomechanical effects, and preparing this way a second generation of quantum mechanical sensing devices.