Tracy Northup awarded with the START-Preis 2016

The quantum mechanical degrees of freedom of single atoms and photons can nowadays be controlled very precisely. There are currently ongoing efforts to extend this control to the motion of macroscopic objects, by coupling mechanical oscillators to a resonator. Until now only linear couplings have been realized, meaning that changes in the motion of the oscillator and changes in the light field are proportional to each other. Tracy Northup's proposal is to combine a levitating glass sphere and a single trapped ion with an optical resonator in order to achieve a nonlinear coupling. "The trapped ion is a very well understood quantum system that provides the optomechanical nonlinearity," explains Tracy. ''And the levitating glass sphere is a macroscopic object that is isolated from its environment." With this setup, Tracy Northup wants to bring the sphere to a superposition state, which means a quantum mechanical state where the glass sphere is in two places at the same time. In the long term, such non-classical states could be used as exquisitely sensitive detectors to investigate new regimes of quantum mechanics and as interfaces to other quantum systems.


The START prize is the highest award for developing researchers in Austria, offering up to 200.000 euro per year. Based on their previous academic achievements, young researchers get the opportunity to plan their research work and build up their own team, while being financially secured during six years.


Tracy Northup


See more at:
Tiroler Tageszeitung