The demonstration of vacuum levitation and motion control on an optical-electrostatic chip

Vacuum levitation and motion control of microscopic objects has been a topic of interest for researchers since the first demonstration several decades ago. Various research groups have been working on new approaches to control the movement of these objects, with some teams moving towards hybrid experimental platforms that combine concepts from atomic physics.

A team at ETH Zurich recently demonstrated the high vacuum levitation of a silica nanoparticle on a hybrid photonic-electric chip. Their experimental platform, outlined in a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology, was found to enable robust levitation, precise position detection, and dynamic control of the nanoparticle in vacuum. The researchers’ proposed method does not require bulky lenses and optical equipment, unlike other platforms, making it more practical for real-world applications and the development of new technologies.

Their on-chip vacuum levitation and motion control platform achieved remarkable results in initial tests, with signal-to-noise ratios and optical displacement detection capabilities comparable to those of other approaches that rely on bulky optical equipment. The team also successfully combined their platform with planar electrodes for active feedback cooling, enabling them to cool down the silica nanoparticle and reduce its motion in 3D.

The new approach for on-chip vacuum levitation and motion control could open new opportunities for quantum research and technology development. The researchers plan to continue improving their platform, for instance, using refractive microlenses to further enhance its detection sensitivity and integrating more sophisticated optical elements (e.g., fiber cavities).

This study was published in Nature Nanotechnology with the title “Vacuum levitation and motion control on chip” and can be found under DOI: 10.1038/s41565-024-01677-3. The content is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission.

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