Observation and interpretation of motional sideband asymmetry in a quantum electro-mechanical device

Quantum electro-mechanical systems offer a unique opportunity to probe quantum noise properties in macroscopic devices, properties which ultimately stem from the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. A simple example of this is expected to occur in a microwave parametric transducer, where mechanical motion generates motional sidebands corresponding to the up and down frequency-conversion of microwave photons. Due to quantum vacuum noise, the rates of these processes are expected to be unequal. We measure this fundamental imbalance in a microwave transducer coupled to a radio-frequency mechanical mode, cooled near the ground state of motion. We also discuss the subtle origin of this imbalance: depending on the measurement scheme, the imbalance is most naturally attributed to the quantum fluctuations of either the mechanical mode or of the electromagnetic field.

Phys. Rev. X 4, 041003, (2014)
arXiv:1404.3242 (quant-ph)