Observation of optomechanical buckling phase transitions

TitleObservation of optomechanical buckling phase transitions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsXu, H, Kemiktarak, U, Fan, J, Ragole, S, Lawall, J, Taylor, JM
Date Published2015/10/16

Correlated phases of matter provide long-term stability for systems as diverse as solids, magnets, and potential exotic quantum materials. Mechanical systems, such as relays and buckling transition spring switches can yield similar stability by exploiting non-equilibrium phase transitions. Curiously, in the optical domain, observations of such phase transitions remain elusive. However, efforts to integrate optical and mechanical systems -- optomechanics -- suggest that a hybrid approach combining the quantum control of optical systems with the engineerability of mechanical systems may provide a new avenue for such explorations. Here we report the first observation of the buckling of an optomechanical system, in which transitions between stable mechanical states corresponding to both first- and second-order phase transitions are driven by varying laser power and detuning. Our results enable new applications in photonics and, given rapid progress in pushing optomechanical systems into the quantum regime, the potential for explorations of quantum phase transitions.