Micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS and NEMS) are employed in many Department of Defense (DoD) systems. These devices find use in compact accelerometers and gyroscopes for stability control and inertial navigation and in switches for optical communication and data routing. Incredibly, these devices still operate many of orders of magnitude away from their ultimate limits. Techniques to reduce or overcome thermal noise in MEMS/NEMS devices are critical for realizing their full potential.
Optomechanical devices offer a novel, noncryogenic path toward sensing at the standard quantum limit (SQL). Ultimately, quantum (shot) noise limits the performance of many sensitive optical instruments including force sensors, trace gas detectors and laser gyroscopes. However, optomechanical devices can also control the quantum fluctuations of optical probes to reduce readout sensitivity below SQL, a technique known as squeezing.
The ORCHID program will leverage recent successes within the field of cavity-optomechanics to broadly explore the application space while driving technological development toward smaller and more robust devices capable of deployment in the field. It is envisioned that such devices, once demonstrated by DARPA, will find broad application across DoD, particularly in the areas of force sensing and optical communication
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