Jan 182012


Viewpoint: Seeing the “Quantum” in Quantum Zero-Point Fluctuations

Aashish Clerk,
Department of Physics, McGill University, Montréal, Québec H3A 2T8, Canada

Physics, 5, 8 (2012)

A technique from ion spectroscopy reveals the quantum nature of a mechanical system at low temperature.

Quantum zero-point motion, the fluctuation in the position of an object necessitated by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, is among the most basic of quantum phenomena. While the origin of such fluctuations may be textbook material, unambiguously detecting them in a large mechanical structure (i.e., large compared to atomic scales) and, moreover, detecting their quantum nature, have remained elusive goals. These two tasks have now been accomplished by Amir Safavi-Naeini and co-workers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. See more

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