Blistering "micro drum" bangs 11 million times per second

Micro drum is part of NIST quantum computing experiments

NIST image
Some heavy metal rock band might love this technology. Scientists with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated an electromechanical micro drum that can vibrate an astounding 11 million times per second.

The scientist said the drum looks like an Irish percussion instrument called a bodhrán, the NIST drum is a round aluminum membrane 100 nanometers thick and 15 micrometers wide.

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NIST scientists said experiments created strong interactions between microwave light oscillating 7.5 billion times per second and what it calls a micro drum vibrating at radio frequencies 11 million times per second. Compared to previously reported experiments combining microscopic machines and electromagnetic radiation, the rate of energy exchange in the NIST device-the "coupling" that reflects the strength of the connection-is much stronger, the mechanical vibrations last longer, and the apparatus is much easier to make, NIST stated.

The drum however would never have a rock band application though as it has a much higher calling: Quantum physics experiments.

From NIST: "In engineering terms, the drum acts as a capacitor-a device that holds electric charge. Its capacitance, or ability to hold charge, depends on the position of the drum about 50 nanometers above an aluminum electrode. When the drum vibrates, the capacitance changes and the mechanical motion modulates the properties of the electrical circuit. The same principle is at work with a microphone and FM radio, but here the natural drum motion, mostly at one frequency, is transmitted to the listener in the lab.

The experiment is a step toward entanglement-a curious quantum state linking the properties of objects-between the microwave photons and the drum motion, says John Teufel, a NIST research affiliate who designed the drum. The apparatus has the high coupling strength and low energy losses needed to generate entanglement, he says. Further experiments will address whether the mechanical drumbeats obey the rules of quantum mechanics, which govern the behavior of light and atoms.

The drum is a key achievement in NIST's effort to develop components for superconducting quantum computers and quantum simulations, while also working toward the widely sought scientific goal of making the most precise measurements possible of mechanical motion. "

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