Available student project - Laser levitation of a macroscopic mirror

Research fields

  • Photonics, Lasers and Nonlinear Optics
  • Quantum Science and Technology
The levitation mirror mounted on three force sensors to measure the radiation pressure force within the optical resonator.

Project details

 "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." — A. C. Clarke

Indeed, for many levitation belongs to the world of magic. Physicists, however, know that levitation pertains to science and technology. Levitation of macroscopic objects has been demonstrated using superconducting magnetism, electrostatic fields, acoustic pressure, and other physical effects. Perhaps the most well known application of levitation is the Maglev high-speed train, where levitation is used to eliminate track friction and enable speeds of more than 500 km/h for passenger carrying transport.

While levitation is not new, it was only recently thought of as a technology that could be used for probing quantum theory or as a tool for precision sensing. Optical tweezers (2018 Nobel prize) for example use levitation of nanoparticles with the purpose of studying the quantum opto-mechanical interactions between light and mechanical objects [1].

A new generation of experiments is transforming levitation to bring this clean, precise form of quantum control to the macroscopic regime [2-3]. The student is asked to join a team of ANU scientists for theoretical modelling and/or experimental manipulation of a laser levitation system, where a microscopic mirror (the size of a small contact lens) is coherently trapped by the amplified power of optical resonators.

"The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible." — A. C. Clarke

[1] Science 367, 892–895 (2020).
[2] Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 183001 (2013).
[3] Commun. Phys. 3, 197 (2020).

Required background

Familiarity with quantum mechanics, lasers, and optical resonators is welcome. The project may suit theoretical modelling and/or experimental work depending on interest and experience.

Project suitability

This research project can be tailored to suit students of the following type(s)
  • 3rd year special project
  • PhB (2nd or 3rd year)
  • Honours or MSc project
  • Phd or MPhil

Contact supervisor

Guccione, Giovanni  profile

Other supervisor(s)

Lam, Ping Koy profile

Updated:  28 October 2021/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPhys/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster