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Nature. 2011 Apr 7;472(7341):69-73. doi: 10.1038/nature09933. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Electromagnetically induced transparency and slow light with optomechanics.

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  • 1Thomas J. Watson Sr Laboratory of Applied Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.


Controlling the interaction between localized optical and mechanical excitations has recently become possible following advances in micro- and nanofabrication techniques. So far, most experimental studies of optomechanics have focused on measurement and control of the mechanical subsystem through its interaction with optics, and have led to the experimental demonstration of dynamical back-action cooling and optical rigidity of the mechanical system. Conversely, the optical response of these systems is also modified in the presence of mechanical interactions, leading to effects such as electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT) and parametric normal-mode splitting. In atomic systems, studies of slow and stopped light (applicable to modern optical networks and future quantum networks) have thrust EIT to the forefront of experimental study during the past two decades. Here we demonstrate EIT and tunable optical delays in a nanoscale optomechanical crystal, using the optomechanical nonlinearity to control the velocity of light by way of engineered photon-phonon interactions. Our device is fabricated by simply etching holes into a thin film of silicon. At low temperature (8.7 kelvin), we report an optically tunable delay of 50 nanoseconds with near-unity optical transparency, and superluminal light with a 1.4 microsecond signal advance. These results, while indicating significant progress towards an integrated quantum optomechanical memory, are also relevant to classical signal processing applications. Measurements at room temperature in the analogous regime of electromagnetically induced absorption show the utility of these chip-scale optomechanical systems for optical buffering, amplification, and filtering of microwave-over-optical signals.

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