Scientific Internship: Controlling nanomechanical motion through efficient optical measurements

Date posted July 24, 2018
Type Scientific Internships

In this project, you will seek to explore quantum mechanics with macroscopic mechanical systems, by performing the most sensitive possible measurements of their motion. The Photonic Forces group studies special mechanical resonators that host photonic crystals cavities. These so-called nanobeams are as long the diameter of a hair and vibrate like strings with MHz frequencies. We study how light and the mechanical motion interact at such a small scale in which a few photons interact strongly with a bunch of phonons. In the past years we have moved significant steps, demonstrating the strongest photon-phonon coupling to date.

With these systems, the goal of measuring motion down to the quantum level, and use these measurements to control the quantum state of the strings is around the corner. The extreme coupling between light and motion indeed makes these kind of systems one of the most sensitive displacement sensors. Several important challenges need to be addressed to reach the quantum regime. The main challenge is to efficiently couple light in and out of the nanocavity. In this project, you will develop new ways to efficiently interface these cavities to free-space light and demonstrate control of the state of the mechanical resonator to the best possible degree. You will strive to combine extremely sensitive measurement with optical forces in order to cool the mechanical resonator down to its motional ground state. The project combines all aspects from photonic design and nanofabrication to optical interferometric measurements and their analysis.

About the group

The Photonic Forces group is part of the Center for Nanophotonics at AMOLF, and studies light-matter interactions at the nanoscale. We investigate the fundamental physics associated with such interactions, which are enhanced through optical field confinement in tailored nanophotonic systems, as well as the applications they allow. In particular, we study new ways to control both light and motion in optomechanical systems. All projects in the group involve the use and development of advanced optical measurement techniques and nanofabrication, with extensive support from the group leader and AMOLF technical staff. For more information, see


You have a Bachelors degree in physics, chemistry or biology and participate in a Master study in one of these areas. The internship must be a mandatory part of your curriculum. You have a nationality of an EU-member state and/or you are a student at a Netherlands University. You must be available for at least 9 months.

Terms of employment

At the start of the traineeship your trainee plan will be set out, in consultation with your AMOLF supervisor.

Contact info

Prof.dr. Ewold Verhagen
Group leader Photonic Forces
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

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–  Resume;
–  List of followed courses plus grades.

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