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31.12.07 - The excellence of the research performed at EPFL has once again been recognized at an international level. Tobias Jan August Kippenberg has received a STARTING GRANT 2007 from the European Research Council (ERC).

Ultra-high-Q physics: towards single molecules and phonons

The proposed research program builds on the previously developed ultra-high-Q monolithic microresonators by the applicant during his dissertation and postdoctoral studies at the “California Institute of Technology”. These micro-resonators offer unprecedented confinement of light in micro-scale volumes for extended amounts of time and have opened many lab-on-chip applications ranging from nonlinear optics, quantum optics to biochemical sensing. This present proposal is concerned to use ultra-high-Q optical micro-cavities as vehicles to study two novel and emerging research opportunities. The first endeavor investigates the possibility to use radiation pressure to cool a mechanical oscillator to the quantum ground state. The significance of the research program lies in its attempt to exploit the opto-mechanical system as a paradigm for the investigation of quantum processes of mechanical objects – a field which has sparked widespread interest in contemporary physics for quiet some time – but which to date remains experimentally unexplored and which is intimately related to concepts used in fields such as gravitational wave detection or scanning probe techniques. From a conceptual point of view, this research – integral part of the emerging field of Quantum Optomechanics – could show how a mechanical, macroscopic object reveals quantum mechanical behavior. Ultra-sensitive measurements are also part of a second, interdisciplinary line of research. To date, only a few widely applied techniques in Biophysics are available for label free detection of ligand-receptor binding, which lack single to resolve single molecule binding events. Building on recent advances of the applicant’s team, the proposed methodology will use membrane functionalized monolithic micro-resonators in aqueous solution as novel technique to resolve single binding events. By developing a methodology by which label free single molecule sensitivity in biomolecular recognition can be attained, this research could enable to open new frontiers to Biophysicists.

Max ERC funding: 1.33 million Euros
Duration: 52 months
Host institution: EPFL
Project acronym: SIMP
Domain: Physical and Engineering Sciences

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