HIGH-TECH HARMONIC OSCILLATORS
AFRL’s Quantum Sensing & Timing (QST) group seeks to use optically-levitated nanoparticles to develop solutions for critical problems in navigation and communication. The focus is on employing cutting-edge physics to develop sensors that are functional in a wide variety of situations.
Regions of higher electric field density attract polarizable objects. Our group uses this phenomenon to attract and contain micro or nano-scale particles in the focus of a laser beam. These trapped particles will behave like a near-perfect mechanical oscillator, achieving quality factors exceeding one billion. Furthermore, optical interferometry can be employed to resolve the particle’s position to within one picometer in only one second of data acquisition, enabling levitated nanoparticles to measure ~10 nano-g accelerations and zeptonewton forces.
AFRL’s research focuses on using levitated nanoparticles to sense inertial forces and electric fields. Our team is developing accelerometers that can be modified in real time to suit various operating environments and advancing electrometers that can scan across a wide range of frequencies. The team also models and simulates these systems to understand the complex interactions better between light and micro-scale matter.