We investigate a hybrid quantum system combining cavity quantum electrodynamics and optomechanics, where a photon mode is coupled to a four-level tripod atom and to a mechanical mode via radiation pressure. We find that within the single-photon optomechanics and Lamb-Dicke limit, the presence of the tripod atom alters the optical properties of the cavity radiation field drastically, and gives rise to completely quantum destructive interference effects in the optical scattering. The heating rate can be dramatically suppressed via utilizing the completely destructive interference involving atom, photon and phonon, and the obtained result is analogous to that of the resolved sideband regime. The heating process is only connected to the scattering of cavity damping path, which is also far-off resonance. Meanwhile, the cooling rate assisted by the atomic transitions can be significantly enhanced, where the cooling process occurs through the cavity and atomic dissipation paths. Finally, the ground-state cooling of the movable mirror is achievable and even more robust to heating process and thermal noise.
© 2014 Optical Society of America
Cavity optomechanics explores the radiation pressure interaction between an optical cavity field and a macroscopic mechanical objects, for example, coated atomic force microscopy cantilevers , SiN3 membrane dispersively coupled to an optical cavity , and superconducting microwave resonators coupled to a nanomembrane beam . In the last decades, tremendous efforts were devoted to investigate optomechanical cooling since the achievement of quantum ground state is a crucial step towards quantum control of macroscopic mechanical systems [4,5]. For a typical optomechanical system, the cavity field is pumped by a strong laser to enhance the optomechanical coupling [6–8]. Recently, with the rapid technical advancement, there are several experiments [9–13], such as bilayer photonic crystal  and optomechanical disk resonators , currently approaching to the single-photon strong coupling regime, where the presence of a single photon displaces the mechanical oscillator by more than its zero-point uncertainty. And recent theoretical investigations show that optomechanical single-photon nonlinear effects can be enhanced due to an increased photon-phonon coupling in multimode optical setups [14,15], or in a driven optomechanical system where a resonance enhances interactions between polaritons [16–18]. The optomechanical cooling behavior in the single-photon strong-coupling regime has been investigated and different phenomena are revealed in .
Nowadays in experiment the movable membrane can be cooled to its ground state by utilizing the resolved-sideband scheme in the cavity optomechanical system . However, due to the existence of blue-sideband heating mechanism and the crucial requirements of experimental setup, it is difficult to achieve a lower temperature in a fast rate. There have been theoretical investigations to break through this limit by exploring the quantum interference effects in quantum dot system  and two-mode optical cavity optomechanical system . Inspired with the recent success in the well-developed techniques in cavity quantum electrodynamics (CQED), a hybrid atom-optomechanical system may be employed to improve the cooling performance of the mechanical oscillator. It is because that the radiation pressure depends on the number statistics of photons, for example, using type I optical parametric amplifier or Kerr medium placed inside a cavity [22, 23], and the photon statistics can be dramatically altered by utilizing the robust quantum interference of transitions between the states of atom-cavity system [24–27]. Moreover, there have been many attractive proposals to experimentally realize such hybrid atom-optomechanical system that uses ultracold atoms as quantum “handle” on the mechanics . Thus, it may be promising to realize such a hybrid atom-optomechanical device combining CQED and optomechanics that can exert the quantum interference where (artificial) atoms, photons and phonons are involved to provide better performance on the cooling of membrane motion.
In this work we consider a hybrid atom-optomechanical system where the cavity interacting with a single four-level tripod atom system and close to the regime of single-photon nonlinear optomechanical effects becoming significant. We focus on the strong coupling between the atomic transitions and cavity field and neglect the external motion of the atom. Possible realizations of such a setup could be a single atom tightly trapped inside an optical resonator with pendular end mirror, an artificial atom inside an optomechanical photonic crystal cavity, or a photonic crystal in diamond coupled to mechanical motion, where a nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center realizes the tripod system. Similar hybrid optomechanical setups composed of a two-level (artificial) atom inside the optomechanical system have been investigated [29, 30], where the quantum interference allows one to suppress the Stokes component of the scattered light. However, it is impossible to completely suppress the heating processes via cavity damping or atomic dissipation paths, which may hinder better cooling performance. In contrast, with use of a four-level tripod atom in our setup, the heating process via atomic dissipation path can be completely suppressed by using double completely quantum destructive interferences: a cavity-mediated three-photon resonance to prohibit the carrier transition  and another resonance involving mechanical phonon, photon and atom to prohibit the phonon increasing transitions. Besides the cancelation of the heating process via atomic dissipation path, the resulting heating coefficient is analogous to that of resolved-sideband regime , and the heating process is only connected to the scattering of cavity damping path, which is also far-off resonance. In a good cavity limit, the heating process can be further suppressed. Meanwhile, the cooling process assisted by the atomic transition can be notably enhanced. On one side, due to additional path mediated by the atom attributed to the photon transition, the cooling process via the cavity damping path is largely enhanced. On the other side, the cooling process can also occur via the atomic dissipation path to further enlarge the cooling rate. As a consequence, the ground-state cooling of movable mirror is achievable, and the enhanced cooling rate can make the cooled movable oscillator more robust against heating process and thermal noise.
The paper is organized as follows: The hybrid atom-optomechanical system is introduced in Sec. 2, and the master equation for the movable mirror is derived in Sec. 3. In Sec. 4 we obtain the explicit expressions for the heating and cooling coefficients via perturbation in Ωp, and finally the conclusion is driven. In the appendix we present some details of calculations.
2. Description of the hybrid atom-optomechanical system
The model under consideration consists of a four-level atom in tripod configuration, fixed at a position and coupled to the field of a single mode of an optomechanical cavity by dipole interaction, as shown in Fig. 1. The topology of such an optomechanical setup is formed by a Fabry-Pérot cavity with a moving end mirror. The movable mirror is treated as a quantum-mechanical harmonic oscillator with effective mass m, frequency ν and energy decay rate γm. The photons in the cavity will exert a radiation pressure force on the movable mirror due to the momentum transfer. Meanwhile, the atom in tripod configuration comprised of one excited state |e〉 and three ground states |gi〉(i = 1, 2, 3) with energy frequencies ωe and ωgi respectively, is placed inside the cavity. Two laser fields with frequencies ωL j(j = 1, 2) are applied to drive dipole-allowed transitions |e〉 ↔ |gj〉 with Rabi frequencies Ωj, respectively, and the third transition |g3〉 ↔ |e〉 is coupled to the optomechanical cavity field of frequency ωc with the coupling strength g. We focus here on the internal degrees of freedom of the atom and neglect its center-of-mass motion. The optomechanical cavity is weakly driven by a laser field of frequency ωp and the driving strength is Ωp. The atom and cavity excitations decay into the vacuum reservoir with rates γ and κ, respectively.
Thus the system can be described by the Hamiltonian,
The time-dependent density operator ρ̂ of this system obeys the master equation
3. Derivation of the master equation for the movable mirror
For the single-photon optomechanics, we make use of the typical unitary transformation given by Û = exp(−Ŝ) with Ŝ = ηâ†â(b̂† − b̂) and η = χ/ν . The sum of two Hamiltonians Ĥosc and F̂x̂ will be diagonalized in the formEq. (1) remain unchanged. Meanwhile, the superoperator 𝒦̂ρ̂ describing cavity decay becomes Eq. (8) by (b̂ + ηâ†â) and (b̂† + ηâ†â), respectively. Because the conditions ηγmn̄th ≪ ωm and η2γmn̄th ≪ κ are satisfied, it is appropriate to get rid of the off-resonate terms, i.e. the first-order terms of η, and the second-order terms of η, which is much smaller than the other terms of ℒ̂mρ̂. Therefore, the form of ℒ̂mρ̂ in Eq. (8) keeps unchanged in the later discussion.
Because the cavity is sufficiently weakly driven, which means that the average photon number of the cavity mode is much smaller than unity, we can truncate the Hilbert space of the system. Hence we investigate the cooling dynamics in the subspace comprised of at most one excitation of the cavity mode, i.e. the relevant Hilbert space is spanned by the statesEqs. (9) and (10) and the superoperator in Eq. (11) correspondingly become Eq. (3). The term ℒ̂ρ̂ describing the dipole spontaneous emission and the term ℒ̂mρ̂ describing the mechanical damping are also unchanged in this subspace.
In the following, we assume that the optomechanical coupling is in the Lamb-Dicke limit, i.e., η ≪ 1, where the transitions that change motional quantum number of movable mirror by more than one are strongly supressed. A Taylor expansion of exponential operator is possible,31, 33], where the Hamiltonian of the system is written into two parts: zeroth- and first-order Hamiltonians in η, i.e., Ĥ = Ĥ0 + Ĥ1. In the rotating frame of ηχ, with the redefined parameters δc3 → δc3 − ηχ, Δ → Δ + ηχ, the Hamiltonian in zeroth-order of η contains the free evolution of the movable mirror Ĥosc and the atom-cavity system , which is given by
When the movable mirror is weakly coupled to the atom-cavity system, we can follow the procedure proposed by Cirac et al.  by use of the second-order perturbation theory with respect to the Lamb-Dicke parameter η to obtain the master equation of mirror motion. We should divide the evolution of the system into three parts: the free evolution of atom-cavity and mirror systems, and the interaction between them, which are represented by the superoperators 𝒮̂0, 𝒮̂2 and 𝒮̂1 respectively. Thus the master equation is written in the form(14) describing the cavity decay, and given in the form Eq. (23) is generated by the polaron transformation. In order to obtain the realistic steady-state mean phonon number, we should return to the original representation, where the cavity damping is represented by Eq. (7). Then in the following we should ignore the term [19, 32].
Tracing over the atom-cavity variables and keeping the motion equation up to the second order of η, we have the master equation for the movable mirror34]. After some direct calculations we obtain the explicit master equation of movable mirror in the rotating frame of oscillating frequency ν
Then we can directly derive the rate equation for the mean phonon number 〈n̂〉, namely31]. Hence in the following we will denote γ3 = γ.
4. Achieving explicit expressions for the heating and cooling coefficients via perturbation in Ωp
The cooling and heating rates A± are related to the spectral of two-time correlation function S(ν) in Eq. (28). According to the quantum regression theorem , the two-time correlation functions 〈σmn(t)σkl(0)〉st obey the same equations as ρnm(t), which are governed by the superoperator (19), and together with the initial values 〈σmn(0)σkl(0)〉st = δnkρlm(∞), where ρlm(∞) are the steady-state solutions, the spectral of two-time correlation S(ν) is achievable. The concrete evolution equations for time-dependent density matrix elements ρmn(t) derived from Eq. (19) are given as
However, it is difficult to obtain the explicit expressions of the two-time correlations from the complex equations (30). Because of the small laser-cavity coupling strength Ωp, it offers the opportunity to achieve the analytical expressions by employing the second-order perturbation method on Ωp, which is feasible to describe the physics within the mechanical cooling dynamics [30, 31]. In the following we denote , and to represent the density matrix elements in orders of , and , respectively, and resort to the method of Laplace transform of the evolution equations to obtain the spectral of two-time correlations.
According to the perturbation method with respect to Ωp, we can obtain the i-th(i = 0, 1, 2) order steady-state density matrix elements in appendix A. With the steady-state solutions and Laplace transforms of the density matrix elements given in appendix A, and applying the quantum regression theorem, after some calculations we obtain the form of the analytical expressions for the heating and cooling coefficients31]. The transition amplitudes 𝒯1 and connected to the emission or absorption of a vibrational phonon are expressed as
4.1. Suppression of heating process via completely quantum destructive interference
In order to achieve a lower cooling temperature, we should suppress the heating processes and enhance the cooling processes. The heating processes are shown in Fig. 2, where |n〉 is phonon number state, the green lines indicate the carrier transition into atomic excited state |e, n〉 and the blue lines indicate the mechanical phonon-increased transitions. From appendix A, we can verify that the carrier transition to the state |e, n〉 becomes zero, i.e., when the detuning δ1 or δ2 satisfies the relation
Further, one can find that when the detuning δ2 fulfills the relationEq. (32) also becomes zero, because the blue-sideband transition into state |e, n + 1〉 is completely prohibited via the destructive quantum interference, and the further transition |e, n + 1〉 ↔ |1, n + 1〉 with the atom-cavity coupling strength g is also prohibited. Thus which appears twice in Eq. (31) is cancelled.
The heating scattering processes are explicitly indicated in Fig. 2, where these mechanical phonon-involved transitions are denoted by the blue lines. The two completely quantum destructive interferences between |g3, n〉 ↔ |1, n〉 ↔ |e, n + 1〉 and |e, n + 1〉 ↔ |g2, n + 1〉, and between |g3, n〉 ↔ |1, n + 1〉 ↔ |e, n + 1〉 and |e, n + 1〉 ↔ |g2, n + 1〉 can simultaneously occur under the condition of (35). By utilizing the two completely destructive quantum interferences, the heating coefficient in Eq. (31) can be simplified into the form19]. Obviously, the heating process connected to the atomic decay completely disappears, and in a good optical cavity limit with a weak pumping strength and appropriate detuning Δ, the heating coefficient in Eq. (36) can be drastically suppressed.
Compared with the hybrid optomechanical system comprised of a two-level atom inside the cavity , where quantum interference is not complete since the heating scattering processes via dipole dissipation and cavity damping paths both exist, here the heating process through the dipole dissipation path is completely suppressed with the use of double completely quantum destructive interferences. While the cooling process via the dipole dissipation path still exists and even can be strongly enhanced in the limit κ ≪ γ, to make the cooled mirror more robust to the heating processes and thermal noise.
4.2. Analysis of cooling coefficient while heating coefficient is suppressed
To obtain the ground-state cooling of the movable mirror, which is also robust to thermal noise, we should enhance the cooling coefficient besides the well-suppressed heating coefficient. Under the conditions of Eqs. (34) and (35), the transition amplitude 𝒯1 is zero and phonon-decreased amplitude becomes the form31]. Therefore we choose the detuning δ1 as
To numerically show the achievement of the ground-state cooling, we choose Δ = −2ν, Ωp = ν, where the single photon assumption is accredited because the photon number of the cavity is about 0.065, well below unity. The steady-state phonon number 〈n̂〉st and cooling rate W/η2 as functions of δ1 and δ2 are plotted in Fig. 3, where we have ignored the thermal noise here and will take it into account in the following discussion. In the figure the completely destructive quantum interference to suppress the carrier transition in Eq. (34) is employed, and the movable mirror is cooled down to the ground state with a fast cooling rate. The high cooling efficiency occurs almost along the diagonal line, i.e., δ2 = δ1 − ν, which is just the condition of the second completely destructive quantum interference involving mechanical phonon-increased transitions in Eq. (35). The minimal of steady-state phonon number is about 0.003, and the corresponding detuning δ1 is about −24ν determined from the Eq. (38).
In order to obtain the intuitive understanding of the role of the atom-cavity interaction in the mechanical cooling, we work out in the limit κ ≪ γ and large atom cooperativity C ≫ 1 with Δ = −2ν. The cooling and heating rates of the mechanical motion are approximatelyFig. 3 and phonon number is about 0.003, which is consistent with the numerical result.
When there is no atom presented in the optomechanical system, i.e., atom-cavity interaction strength g = 0, the heating and cooling coefficients become19]. It should be noted that the detuning Δ here has been rotated in frame of single-photon induced frequency shift ηχ. The optimal cooling occurs at the red sideband Δ = −ν, and the cooling rate is . In order to fulfill the weak driving approximation, the strength ηΩp should be much smaller than κ to validate the perturbation approximation. For example, when ηΩp/κ = 0.1, the cooling rate A− is 0.001ν with κ = 0.1ν in the resolved-sideband regime. In the realistic condition, the mechanical oscillator suffers to the thermal heating, and we should take into account of intrinsic damping of the mechanical oscillator induced by its coupling to thermal noise. In a cryogenic environment the mechanical quality factor Q = ν/γm can reach 106 or even 107 with current [10, 36] or near-future technology . When the initial thermal occupation n̄th is 1000 with mechanical quality factor Q = 106, the thermal heating rate γmn̄th leads to the final mean phonon number 〈n̂〉st ≈ 1.
A promising avenue to circumvent the limitations inherent to optomechanical cooling is the use of an auxiliary quantum system that can enhance the effective optomechanical response of the resonantor, such as hybrid optomechanical systems [38–41]. In our present scheme, there exists an extra cooling path via the atomic decay, and the large atomic decay rate can relax the requirement of the weak optomechanical coupling limit, i.e., the effective optomechanical coupling strength beyond the cavity width, since it can significantly decrease the timescale of the system to reach the steady state. With the increased coupling strength and enlarged decay rate, we can achieve the faster and more robust cooling dynamics. For example, in this paper we can choose η = 0.1, where the exponential expansion and the weak-coupling approximation can be both satisfied, and from the numerical results in Fig. 3 the optimal cooling rate becomes W ≈ 0.0068ν. With the same thermal occupation and quality factor given above, the final mean phonon number is 〈n̂〉 ≈ 0.14, which is much lower than unity. Moreover, when the initial thermal occupation n̄th is below 6800 with mechanical quality factor Q = 106, the thermal heating rate γmn̄th is smaller than the cooling rate induced by atom-cavity system, and the ground-state cooling of mechanical oscillator is achievable.
When compared with the optomechanical cooling assisted by two-level atom, we set the driving strength of the additional transitions Ω1 and Ω2 zero, the transition amplitudes 𝒯1 and are simplified asFig. 3 through choosing the optimal detuning δc3. However, with use of the double completely destructive interferences in the hybrid optomechanical system assisted by tripod atom, the heating rate in Eq. (36) is only connected to cavity decay rate κ. The heating process related to atomic decay is completely suppressed, while the cooling processes related to both atomic and cavity decay exist. In the limit κ ≪ γ, it is easier to achieve lower cooling limit and faster cooling rate through tuning the parameters. Since the heating rate is strongly suppressed in the good-cavity limit, we can focus on the enlargement of atomic decay to enhance the cooling rate to realize ground-state cooling of mechanical motion. In Fig. 3, the final mean phonon number without taking into account of thermal noise is 0.003.
Thus, with use of the four-level tripod atom within the optomechanical system and exploiting the completely quantum destructive interferences, the heating process becomes analogous to that of the cooling in single-photon regime in the Lamb-Dicke limit while the cooling rate assisted by the atomic degrees of freedom can be remarkably enhanced, leading the cooled mirror robust against the thermal noise. Notable signatures of quantum interference involving the atomic, photonic, and mechanical quantum degrees of freedom should be detectable in the cooling dynamics, in such a way demonstrating the coherent dynamics of the composite system.
To summarize, we have investigated a hybrid atom-optomechanical quantum system comprised of a four-level tripod atom within an optomechanical resonator, where a photon mode is coupled to the tripod atom and to the mechanical mode via radiation pressure. We find that within the single-photon nonlinear optomechanics and Lamb-Dicke limit, the presence of the tripod atom alters the optical properties of the cavity drastically, and gives rise to completely destructive interference effects in the optical scattering. The heating process can be drastically suppressed by utilizing two completely destructive quantum interferences that are mediated by the atom, leading to the heating process via dipole dissipation path canceled. The obtained heating coefficient is analogous to that of cooling of single-photon regime in Lamb-Dicke limit and far-off resonance, which can be further suppressed in a good cavity limit. Meanwhile, the cooling rate can be notably enhanced assisted by the atomic degrees of freedom, since an additional transition mediated by the atom attributes to the cooling process through the cavity damping path and the cooling process through the atomic dissipation path also occurs. Thus, the cooling rate can be much enhanced compared with that of single-photon regime, and the enlarged cooling rate can make the ground-state cooling of mirror achievable and the cooled mirror more robust to heating process and thermal noise.
A. Derivation of two-time correlation function with use of the perturbation method
To obtain the analytical expressions of heating and cooling rates A± in Eq. (28), we make use of the perturbation method with respect to Ωp. In the following we denote , and to indicate the density matrix elements in the orders of , and , respectively. To achieve the solutions of the time-dependent density matrix elements we resort to Laplace transform of the evolution equations, which is defined as
A.1. The density matrix in the zeroth order of Ωp
The evolution equation of density matrix elements in zeroth order of Ωp can be obtained from Eq. (30), which is a separate equation
A.2. The density matrix in the first order of Ωp
To achieve the correction of density matrix in the first order of Ωp, we substitute the zeroth-order terms into the right hand side (RHS) of Eq. (30), and find out that the evolution equations for the nonzero density matrix elements are given asEq. (49).
A.3. The density matrix in the second order of Ωp
The correction of density matrix in the second-order Ωp can be derived following the same procedure. By substituting the first-order terms into the RHS of the evolution equations in Eq. (30), we obtain a group of nonzero density matrix elements on the second order forming a complete set of evolution equations, which are given asEq. (17) are contained in this group of equations. The steady-state solution of density matrix in the second-order of Ωp can be calculated by substituting the first-order results ρ(1)(∞) into Eq. (51), which are denoted as ρ(2)(∞). For example, that is connected to mechanical effects on the movable oscillator from atomic spontaneously emitted photon is given as
The Laplace transform of the second-order density matrix elements ρ(2)(s) is given byEq. (51). The spectral of two-time correlation function S(ν) in Eq. (26) can be calculated from 〈V̂1(s)V̂1(0)〉s by substituting s with −iν. By applying the quantum regression theorem, 〈V̂1(s)V̂1(0)〉s can be derived from the single-time average , which is achievable in Eqs. (50) and (54).
This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 61275123), the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2012CB921602), and the Key Laboratory of Advanced Micro-Structure of Tongji University.
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