Our research group pursues the development and applications of the most advanced measurement techniques to both probe the fundamental quantum nature of the physical world, and to further nanoscience and nanotechnology. The questions we are addressing are both fundamental and technological: is there a boundary between the classical and quantum world? and, if "large" objects can behave quantum mechanically, how can we harness this strange behavior to advance the exploration of physics and/or technology?
In recent years, our work has been focused on the exploration of the quantum properties of nanoscale electro-mechanical structures at ultra-low temperatures. We utilize advanced nanofabrication technique to produce superconducting electro-mechanical structures which include very low dissipation microwave resonators, single-electron devices, and qubit structures, coupled to mechanical elements. We are currently pursuing the realization of measurement techniques, imagined and described in the 1970's, which side-step the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and allow for measurements without the standard quantum limit. This work also includes the development of ultra-sensitive amplifiers based on advanced superconductors which are developed by colleagues at Microdevice Laboratory at NASA/JPL.
We are also investigating the fundamental thermal transport properties of single layers of crystalline carbon atoms (graphene). Electrons in this 2D material can transport heat through the emission of phonons, photons, or through diffusion. Beyond providing fundamental insight into the electronic nature of this material, we are interested in the application of graphane to ultra-sensitive bolometry, calorimetry, and high frequency mixing.
We are working with Prof. Mukund Vengalattore (Cornell, Physics Dept) to explore the coupling of nanoscale mechanical and electron structures to ultra-cold atomic systems, a prototypical hybrid quantum system. Using the sensitivity of the atomic system, it appears that quantum limited detection of motion is possible. We are curious how the best properties of atomic and condensed matter physics can be combined and harnessed.
Finally, our group is looking into the quantum limits of large, hand-sized, (not-so-nano) objects. We have a new effort to study the acoustic motion of superfluid helium confined inside a superconducting microwave resonator. It appears possible to create an acoustic frequency resonator with energy decay times on the order of years(!). Realizing such behavior can impact the study of fundamental quantum decoherence mechanisms and the detection of very weak inertial forces.