Oskar Painter Developes a Nanoscale Device

Scanning electron microscope image of an array of "zipper" optomechanical cavities. The scale and sensitivity of the device is set by its physical mass (40 picograms/40 trillionths of a gram) and the nanoscale gap between the two nanobeams (100 nanometers/100 billionths of a meter). [Credit: Caltech/Matt Eichenfield and Jasper Chan]

Scanning electron microscope image of an array of "zipper" optomechanical cavities. The scale and sensitivity of the device is set by its physical mass (40 picograms/40 trillionths of a gram) and the nanoscale gap between the two nanobeams (100 nanometers/100 billionths of a meter). [Credit: Caltech/Matt Eichenfield and Jasper Chan]

Oskar Painter, Associate Professor of Applied Physics, has developed a nanoscale device that can be used for force detection, optical communication, and more. The nanoscale device is called a zipper cavity because of the way its dual cantilevers-or nanobeams, as Painter calls them-move together and apart when the device is in use. "If you look at it, it actually looks like a zipper," Painter notes. The device exploits the mechanical properties of light to create an optomechanical cavity in which interactions between light and motion are greatly strengthened and enhanced. These interactions are the largest demonstrated to date. [Caltech Press Release]

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