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Science. 2012 Mar 30;335(6076):1603-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1216821. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Coherent sensing of a mechanical resonator with a single-spin qubit.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


Mechanical systems can be influenced by a wide variety of small forces, ranging from gravitational to optical, electrical, and magnetic. When mechanical resonators are scaled down to nanometer-scale dimensions, these forces can be harnessed to enable coupling to individual quantum systems. We demonstrate that the coherent evolution of a single electronic spin associated with a nitrogen vacancy center in diamond can be coupled to the motion of a magnetized mechanical resonator. Coherent manipulation of the spin is used to sense driven and Brownian motion of the resonator under ambient conditions with a precision below 6 picometers. With future improvements, this technique could be used to detect mechanical zero-point fluctuations, realize strong spin-phonon coupling at a single quantum level, and implement quantum spin transducers.

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