Systems with coupled mechanical and optical or electrical degrees of freedom1,2 have fascinating dynamics that, through macroscopic manifestations of quantum behaviour3, provide new insights into the transition between the classical and quantum worlds. Of particular interest is the back-action of electrons and photons on mechanical oscillators, which can lead to cooling and amplification of mechanical motion4,5,6. Furthermore, feedback, which is naturally associated with back-action, has been predicted to have significant consequences for the noise of a detector coupled to a mechanical oscillator7,8. Recently it has also been demonstrated that such feedback effects lead to strong coupling between single-electron transport and mechanical motion in carbon nanotube nanomechanical resonators9,10. Here we present noise measurements which show that the mesoscopic back-action of electrons tunnelling through a radio-frequency quantum point contact11 causes driven vibrations of the host crystal. This effect is a remarkable macroscopic manifestation of microscopic quantum behaviour, where the motion of a mechanical oscillator—the host crystal, which consists of on the order of 1020 atoms—is determined by statistical fluctuations of tunnelling electrons.
Your institute does not have access to this article
Open Access articles citing this article.
Nature Communications Open Access 11 April 2016
Subscription info for Chinese customers
We have a dedicated website for our Chinese customers. Please go to naturechina.com to subscribe to this journal.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Aspelmeyer, M. & Schwab, K. Focus on mechanical systems at the quantum limit. N. J. Phys. 10, 095001 (2008)
Kippenberg, T. J. & Vahala, K. J. Cavity optomechanics: back-action at the mesoscale. Science 321, 1172–1176 (2008)
Blencowe, M. P. Quantum electromechanical systems. Phys. Rep. 395, 159–222 (2004)
Naik, A. et al. Cooling a nanomechanical resonator with quantum back-action. Nature 443, 193–196 (2006)
Gröblacher, S. et al. Demonstration of an ultracold micro-optomechanical oscillator in a cryogenic cavity. Nature Phys. 5, 485–488 (2009)
Kippenberg, T., Rokhsari, H., Carmon, T., Scherer, A. & Vahala, K. Analysis of radiation-pressure induced mechanical oscillation of an optical microcavity. Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 33901 (2005)
Usmani, O., Blanter, Y. M. & Nazarov, Y. Strong feedback and current noise in nanoelectromechanical systems. Phys. Rev. B 75, 195312 (2007)
Rodrigues, D. Fano-like antiresonances in nanomechanical and optomechanical systems. Phys. Rev. Lett. 102, 067202 (2009)
Steele, G. A. et al. Strong coupling between single-electron tunneling and nanomechanical motion. Science 325, 1103–1107 (2009)
Lassagne, B., Tarakanov, Y., Kinaret, J., Garcia-Sanchez, D. & Bachtold, A. Coupling mechanics to charge transport in carbon nanotube mechanical resonators. Science 325, 1107–1110 (2009)
Reilly, D. J., Marcus, C. M., Hanson, M. P. & Gossard, A. C. Fast single-charge sensing with a rf quantum point contact. Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 162101 (2007)
Knobel, R. G. & Cleland, A. N. Nanometre-scale displacement sensing using a single electron transistor. Nature 424, 291–293 (2003)
Armour, A. D. Current noise of a single-electron transistor coupled to a nanomechanical resonator. Phys. Rev. B 70, 165315 (2004)
Clerk, A. A. & Girvin, S. M. Shot noise of a tunnel junction displacement detector. Phys. Rev. B 70, 121303 (2004)
Poggio, M. et al. An off-board quantum point contact as a sensitive detector of cantilever motion. Nature Phys. 4, 635–638 (2008)
Braginsky, V. B. & Khalili, F. Quantum Measurement 76–92 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992)
Cronenwett, S. M. et al. Low-temperature fate of the 0.7 structure in a point contact: a Kondo-like correlated state in an open system. Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 226805 (2002)
Meir, Y., Hirose, K. & Wingreen, N. S. Kondo model for the “0.7 anomaly” in transport through a quantum point contact. Phys. Rev. Lett. 89, 196802 (2002)
Schoelkopf, R. J., Wahlgren, P., Kozhevnikov, A. A., Delsing, P. & Prober, D. E. The radio-frequency single-electron transistor (RF-SET): a fast and ultrasensitive electrometer. Science 280, 1238–1242 (1998)
Kogan, S. Electronic Noise and Fluctuations in Solids 145–155 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996)
Blanter & Büttiker, M. Shot noise in mesoscopic conductors. Phys. Rep. 336, 1–166 (2000)
Reydellet, L.-H., Roche, P. & Glattli, D. C. Quantum partition noise of photon-created electron-hole pairs. Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 176803 (2003)
Lesovik, G. B. & Levitov, L. S. Noise in an ac biased junction: nonstationary Aharanov-Bohm effect. Phys. Rev. Lett. 72, 538–541 (1994)
Schoelkopf, R. J., Kozhevnikov, A. A., Prober, D. E. & Rooks, M. J. Observation of “photon-assisted” shot noise in a phase-coherent conductor. Phys. Rev. Lett. 80, 2437–2440 (1998)
Korotkov, A. N. & Paalanen, M. A. Charge sensitivity of radio frequency single-electron transistor. Appl. Phys. Lett. 74, 4052–4054 (1999)
Ohno, I. Free vibration of a rectangular parallelepiped crystal and its application to determination of elastic constants of orthorhombic crystals. J. Phys. Earth 24, 355–379 (1976)
Visscher, W. M., Migliori, A., Bell, T. M. & Reinert, R. A. On the normal-modes of free-vibration of inhomogeneous and anisotropic elastic objects. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 90, 2154–2162 (1991)
Soderkvist, J. Activation and detection of mechanical vibrations in piezoelectric beams. Sens. Actuators A Phys. 32, 567–571 (1992)
Koch, J. & von Oppen, F. Franck-Condon blockade and giant Fano factors in transport through single molecules. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 206804 (2005)
DiCarlo, L. et al. Shot-noise signatures of 0.7 structure and spin in a quantum point contact. Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 036810 (2006)
We thank A. D. Armour, A. A. Clerk, J. G. E. Harris and D. A. Rodrigues for discussions. This work was supported by the NSF under grant nos DMR-0804488 and DMR-0804477, by the ARO under agreement nos W911NF-06-1-0312 and W911NF-06-1-0361, and by the NSA, LPS and ARO under agreement no. W911-NF-08-1-0482.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
This file contains Supplementary Information comprising (1) Electromechanical coupling, (2) Vibrational Mode Analysis, (3) Photon Assisted Shot Noise calculation, (4) Displacement and backaction analysis, References and Supplementary Figure 1 with legend. (PDF 2551 kb)
About this article
Cite this article
Stettenheim, J., Thalakulam, M., Pan, F. et al. A macroscopic mechanical resonator driven by mesoscopic electrical back-action. Nature 466, 86–90 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature09123
Nature Communications (2016)