The quality factor of a mechanical resonator is an important figure of merit for various sensing applications and for observing quantum behavior. Here, we demonstrate a technique to push the quality factor of a micromechanical resonator beyond conventional material and fabrication limits by using an optical field to stiffen or trap a particular motional mode. Optical forces increase the oscillation frequency by storing most of the mechanical energy in a nearly lossless optical potential, thereby strongly diluting the effect of material dissipation. By placing a 130 nm thick SiO 2 pendulum in an optical standing wave, we achieve an increase in the pendulum center-of-mass frequency from 6.2 to 145 kHz. The corresponding quality factor increases 50-fold from its intrinsic value to a final value of Q=5.8(1.1)×105, representing more than an order of magnitude improvement over the conventional limits of SiO 2 for this geometry. Our technique may enable new opportunities for mechanical sensing and facilitate observations of quantum behavior in this class of mechanical systems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)