Cavity optomechnics studies the interaction of cavity confined photons with mechanical motion. The emergence of sophisticated nanofabrication technology has led to experimental demonstrations of a wide range of novel optomechanical systems that exhibit strong optomechanical coupling and allow exploration of interesting physical phenomena. Many of the studies reported so far are focused on interaction of photons with localized mechanical modes. For my doctoral research, I did experimental investigations to extend this study to propagating phonons. I used surface travelling acoustic waves as the mechanical element of my optomechanical system. The optical cavities constitute an optical racetrack resonator and photonic crystal nanocavity. This dissertation discusses implementation of this surface acoustic wave based optomechanical system and experimental demonstrations of important consequences of the optomechanical coupling. The discussion focuses on three important achievements of the research. First, microwave frequency surface acoustic wave transducers were co-integrated with an optical racetrack resonator on a piezoelectric aluminum nitride film deposited on an oxidized silicon substrate. Acousto-optic modulation of the resonance modes at above 10 GHz with the acoustic wavelength significantly below the optical wavelength was achieved. The phase and modal matching conditions in this paradigm were investigated for efficient optmechanical coupling. Second, the optomechanical coupling was pushed further into the sideband resolved regime by integrating the high frequency surface acoustic wave transducers with a photonic crystal nanocavity. This device was used to demonstrate optomecahnically induced transparency and absorption, one of the interesting consequences of cavity optomechanics. Phase coherent interaction of the acoustic wave with multiple nanocavities was also explored. In a related experiment, the photonic crystal nanoscavity was placed inside an acoustic echo-chamber, and interaction of a phonon pulse with the photonic nanocavity was investigated. Third, an effort was made to address a major limitation of the surface acoustic wave based optomechanical system - loss of acoustic energy into the oxidized silicon substrate. To circumvent this problem, the optomechanical system was implemented in a suspended aluminum nitride membrane. The system confined the optical and acoustic wave within the thickness of the membrane and led to a stronger optomechanical coupling. At the end a summary is given that highlights important features of the optmechanical system and its prospects in future fundamental research and application.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. January 2016. Major: Physics. Advisor: Mo Li. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 115 pages.
Nano-Optomechanical System Based On Microwave Frequency Surface Acoustic Waves.
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