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High sensitivity, levitated microsphere apparatus for short-distance force measurements

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posted on 2023-11-30, 19:43 authored by Akio Kawasaki, Alexander Fieguth, Nadav Priel, Charles P. Blakemore, Denzal Martin, Giorgio Gratta
A high sensitivity force sensor based on dielectric microspheres in vacuum, optically trapped by a single, upward-propagating laser beam, is described. Off-axis parabolic mirrors are used both to focus the 1064~nm trapping beam and to recollimate it to provide information on the horizontal position of the microsphere. The vertical degree of freedom is readout by forming an interferometer between the light retroreflected by the microsphere and a reference beam, hence eliminating the need for auxiliary beams. The focus of the trapping beam has a 1/e$^2$ radius of 3.2~$\mu$m and small non-Gaussian tails, suitable for bringing devices close to the trapped microsphere without disturbing the optical field. Electrodes surrounding the trapping region provide excellent control of the electric field, which can be used to drive the translational degrees of freedom of a charged microsphere and the rotational degrees of freedom of a neutral microsphere, coupling to its electric dipole moment. With this control, the charge state can be determined with single electron precision, the mass of individual microspheres can be measured, and empirical calibrations of the force sensitivity can be made for each microsphere. A force noise of $<1\times10^{-17}$~N/$\sqrt{\rm Hz}$, which is comparable to previous reports, is measured on all three degrees of freedom for 4.7~$\mu$m diameter, 84~pg silica microspheres. Various devices have been brought within $1.6~\mu$m of the surface of a trapped microsphere. Metrology in the trapping region is provided by two custom-designed microscopes providing views in the horizontal and one of the vertical planes. The apparatus opens the way to performing high sensitivity three-dimensional force measurements at short distance.

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