Casimir spring and dilution in macroscopic cavity optomechanics

J. M. Pate*, M. Goryachev, R. Y. Chiao, J. E. Sharping, M. E. Tobar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The Casimir force was predicted in 1948 as a force arising between macroscopic bodies from the zero-point energy. At finite temperatures, it has been shown that a thermal Casimir force exists due to thermal rather than zero-point energy and there are a growing number of experiments that characterize the effect at a range of temperatures and distances. In addition, in the rapidly evolving field of cavity optomechanics, there is an endeavour to manipulate phonons and enhance coherence. We demonstrate a way to realize a Casimir spring and engineer dilution in macroscopic optomechanics, by coupling a metallic SiN membrane to a photonic re-entrant cavity. The attraction of the spatially localized Casimir spring mimics a non-contacting boundary condition, giving rise to increased strain and acoustic coherence through dissipation dilution. This provides a way to manipulate phonons via thermal photons leading to ‘in situ’ reconfigurable mechanical states, to reduce loss mechanisms and to create additional types of acoustic nonlinearity—all at room temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1122
Number of pages7
JournalNature Physics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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