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Bulk crystalline optomechanics

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posted on 2023-11-30, 17:07 authored by W. H. Renninger, P. Kharel, R. O. Behunin, P. T. Rakich
Brillouin processes couple light and sound through optomechanical three-wave interactions. Within bulk solids, this coupling is mediated by the intrinsic photo-elastic material response yielding coherent emission of high frequency (GHz) acoustic phonons. This same interaction produces strong optical nonlinearities that overtake both Raman or Kerr nonlinearities in practically all solids. In this paper, we show that the strength and character of Brillouin interactions are radically altered at low temperatures when the phonon coherence length surpasses the system size. In this limit, the solid becomes a coherent optomechanical system with macroscopic (cm-scale) phonon modes possessing large ($60\ \mu \rm{g}$) motional masses. These phonon modes, which are formed by shaping the surfaces of the crystal into a confocal phononic resonator, yield appreciable optomechanical coupling rates (${\sim}100$ Hz), providing access to ultra-high $Q$-factor ($4.2{\times}10^7$) phonon modes at high ($12$ GHz) carrier frequencies. The single-pass nonlinear optical susceptibility is enhanced from its room temperature value by more than four orders of magnitude. Through use of bulk properties, rather than nano-structural control, this comparatively simple approach is enticing for the ability to engineer optomechanical coupling at high frequencies and with high power handling. In contrast to cavity optomechanics, we show that this system yields a unique form of dispersive symmetry breaking that enables selective phonon heating or cooling without an optical cavity (i.e., cavity-less optomechanics). Extending these results, practically any transparent crystalline material can be shaped into an optomechanical system as the basis for materials spectroscopy, new regimes of laser physics, precision metrology, quantum information processing, and for studies of macroscopic quantum coherence.

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