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Heating and Cooling Mechanisms for the Thermal Motion of an Optically Levitated Nanoparticle

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posted on 16.12.2020, 03:07 by Troy A Seberson
Bridging the gap between the classical and quantum regimes has consequences not only for fundamental tests of quantum theory, but for the relation between quantum mechanics and gravity. The field of levito-dynamics provides a promising platform for testing the hypotheses of the works investigating these ideas. By manipulating a macroscopic particle's motion to the scale of its ground state wavefunction, levito-dynamics offers insight into the macroscopic-quantum regime.

Ardent and promising research has brought the field of levito-dynamics to a state in which these tests are available. Recent work has brought a mesoscopic particle's motion to near the ground state. Several factors of decoherence are limiting efficient testing of these fundamental theories which implies the need for alternative strategies for achieving the same goal. This thesis is concerned with investigating alternative methods that may enable a mesoscopic particle to reach the quantum regime. 

In this thesis, three theoretical proposals are studied as a means for a mesoscopic particle to reach the quantum regime as well as a detailed study into one of the most important factors of heating and decoherence for optical trapping. The first study of cooling a particle's motion highlights that the rotational degrees of freedom of a levitated symmetric-top particle leads to large harmonic frequencies compared to the translational motion, offering a more accessible ground state temperature after feedback cooling is applied. An analysis of a recent experiment under similar conditions is compared with the theoretical findings and found to be consistent. 
The second method of cooling takes advantage of the decades long knowledge of atom trapping and cooling. By coupling a spin-polarized, continuously Doppler cooled atomic gas to a magnetic nanoparticle through the dipole-dipole interaction, motional energy is able to be removed from the nanoparticle. Through this method, the particle is able to reach near its quantum ground state provided the atoms are at a temperature below the nanoparticle ground state temperature and the atom number is sufficiently large.
The final investigation presents the dynamics of an optically levitated dielectric disk in a Gaussian standing wave. Though few studies have been performed on disks both theoretically and experimentally, our findings show that the stable couplings between the translational and rotational degrees of freedom offer a possibility for cooling several degrees of freedom simultaneously by actively cooling a single degree freedom.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Physics and Astronomy

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Francis Robicheaux

Additional Committee Member 2

Laura Pyrak-Nolte

Additional Committee Member 3

Qi Zhou

Additional Committee Member 4

Tongcang Li