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Nanomechanical systems (NEMS) are freely suspended nanostructures which are driven to vibrate thermally or by means of external actuation. Typical NEMS include doubly-clamped beams or singly-clamped nanocantilevers, and can be fabricated top-down from semiconductor wafers or synthesized in a bottom-up way. The physical properties of these tiny oscillators differ fundamentally from macroscopic mechanical objects: The dissipation increases with shrinking dimensions, while anharmonicities provide a nonlinear mechanical response. Nanomechanical resonators are highly sensitive to changes in their environment, and coupling to external degrees of freedom can give rise to strong backaction effects.
In our lab, we are conducting experimental research on nano-mechanical systems, with an emphasis on transduction and dissipation of nanomechanical resonators, nano-electro-mechanical systems and cavity nano-optomechanics. To this end, we employ state of the art cleanroom fabrication technology to process NEMS based on high stress silicon nitride, gallium arsenide, or carbon nanotubes, among other materials.
The investigation of nanomechanical resonators calls for novel actuation schemes, and often produces astounding results. A mechanical shuttle can transport single electrons between two contacts. Dielectric beams can be driven parametrically in an electric gradient field. And coupling to an optical or microwave cavity can result in a suppression of the Brownian motion of the resonator, leading to an effective optomechanical cooling of the vibration mode that may pave the way to the quantum mechanical ground state of the oscillator. In order to explore those effects, we employ transport measurements, RF and microwave electronics and optical methods as well as vacuum technology and cryogenic techniques.