Micromechanics: a new quantum technology
In modern information technology, micromechanical oscillators are ubiquitous signal processing elements. Because the speed of sound is so slow compared to the speed of light, mechanical structures create superb compact filters and clocks. Moreover they convert force and acceleration signals into more easily processed electrical signals. Although these humble devices appear manifestly classical, they can exhibit quantum behavior when their vibrations are strongly coupled to optical light or to microwave electricity. I will describe our progress in using this recent and exciting result to develop quantum information processing elements or quantum enhanced sensors that exploit the unique properties of mechanical systems. In particular, we are developing a device that uses a mechanical oscillator to transfer information noiselessly between electrical and optical domains. In the quantum regime, this device would enable a communication network with information security guaranteed by physical laws of nature and information capacity that exceeds the classical “Shannon” bound.