We propose an opto-mechanical accelerometer working at the precision-limits imposed by quantum mechanics. Our chip-based approach combines our state-of-the-art designs in both nanophotonics and quantum phononics to pioneer new types of telecom sensors which are quickly becoming widespread in modern society. Using techniques recently developed at TU Delft we are now able to manipulate highstress films with unique optical and mechanical performance into nearly any nanostructure imaginable; something that has eluded research and industry R&D efforts. This allows us to produce high-aspect-ratio suspended mechanical structures at low costs and opens up completely new avenues in optomechanical sensors.
We have designed new photonic crystal structures that allow us to confine light into ultra-small volumes and make it possible to measure movements on the femtometer scale, a distance normally reserved for describing the radius of atoms. In order to measure accelerations associated with these scales, one needs to be able to clearly distinguish it from the thermal noise coming from surrounding environments at room temperature.
Our novel techniques for manufacturing high-aspect-ratio structures will allow us to surround photonic crystal optical cavities and large masses needed for accelerometry with phononic crystals which give us unprecedented vibrational shielding from environmental noise. For the first time, we will be combining these types of meta-materials, which act as mirrors for both light and vibrations, in order to access new sensor platforms which have been out of reach of industrial commercialisation. This will allow us to demonstrate orders-of-magnitude better acceleration sensitivities compared to commercial sensors with game-changing manufacturing yield; a combination which is rarely achieved together. Our recent innovations in design and nanofabrication, combined with the expertise in quantum limited read-out, places our consortium in a unique position to open up a new direction in the nanophotonics sensor market.