Many fascinating quantum behaviours occur on a scale that is intermediate between individual particles and large ensembles. It is on this mesoscopic scale that collective properties, including quantum decoherence, start to emerge.
This project will use vibrating carbon nanotubes – like guitar strings just a micrometre long – as mechanical probes in this intermediate regime. Nanotubes are ideal to explore this region experimentally, because they can be isolated from thermal noise; they are deflected by tiny forces; and they are small enough that quantum jitter significantly affects their behaviour. To take advantage of these properties, I will integrate nanotube resonators into electromechanical circuits that allow sensitive measurements at very low temperature.
First, I will study the motional decoherence of the nanotube itself, by using it as the test particle in a new kind of quantum interferometer. This experiment works by integrating the nanotube into a superconducting qubit, and will represent a test of quantum superposition on a larger mass scale than ever before. It will answer a longstanding question of physics: can a moving object, containing millions of particles, exist in a superposition of states?
Second, I will use the nanotube device as a tool to study superfluid helium 3 – the mysterious state of matter that may emulate the interacting quantum fields of the early universe. By measuring an immersed nanotube viscometer, I will be able to measure the behaviour of superfluid excitations on a scale where bulk superfluidity begins to break down.
Third, I will add to the device a nanomagnet on nanotube springs, creating an ultra-sensitive magnetic force sensor. This offers a way to perform nuclear magnetic resonance on a chip, ultimately creating a microscopy tool that could image for example single viruses.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/physical sciences/condensed matter physics/soft matter physics
- /natural sciences/physical sciences/theoretical physics/particles
Call for proposal
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