The motion of a mechanical object, even a human-sized object, should be governed by the rules of quantum mechanics. Coaxing them into a quantum state is, however, difficult because the thermal environment masks any quantum signature of the object's motion. The thermal environment also masks the effects of proposed modifications of quantum mechanics at large mass scales. We prepared the center-of-mass motion of a 10-kilogram mechanical oscillator in a state with an average phonon occupation of 10.8. The reduction in temperature, from room temperature to 77 nanokelvin, is commensurate with an 11 orders-of-magnitude suppression of quantum back-action by feedback and a 13 orders-of-magnitude increase in the mass of an object prepared close to its motional ground state. Our approach will enable the possibility of probing gravity on massive quantum systems.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Whittle, C., Hall, E., Dwyer, S., Mavalvala, N., Sudhir, V., Abbott, R., Ananyeva, A., Austin, C., Barsotti, L., Betzwieser, J., Blair, C., Brooks, A., Brown, D., Buikema, A., Cahillane, C., Driggers, J., Effler, A., Fernandez-Galiana, A., Fritschel, P., Frolov, V., Hardwick, T., Kasprzack, M., Kawabe, K., Kijbunchoo, N., Kissel, J., Mansell, G., Matichard, F., McCuller, L., McRae, T., Mullavey, A., Pele, A., Schofield, R., & Sigg, D. (2021). Approaching the motional ground state of a 10-kg object. Science, 372 (6548), 1333-1336. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abh2634