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PHYS 576 A: Selected Topics in Experimental Physics

Meeting Time: 
TTh 7:00pm - 8:50pm
PAA A114
Arthur Barnard smiling
Arthur Barnard

Syllabus Description:


This course is geared towards introducing the field of nanomechanics to early-career graduate students, with a focus on the breadth of contemporary applications. Students will learn fundamentals and survey the current state-of-the-art, learning how mechanical vibrations can be employed in studying fundamental physics and applied to quantum technologies. Topics include (~1 week/topic):

Precision measurements:

  • Pushing the limits of force and mass detection
  • Experimental tests of gravity (tests of collapse models and short-range corrections)
  • Measurements beyond the standard quantum limit


  • Optical cooling – analogies to cold atoms
  • Nonlinear optomechanical effects (synchronization, frequency combs etc.)
  • Single photon optomechanics (strong/ultra-strong coupling regime)

Quantum Computing:

  • Nanomechanical Qubits
  • Resonators as quantum memory elements
  • Coupling to charge-based qubits

The course will be split between lectures on fundamental concepts and presentations on contemporary research articles by students (or teams of students based on enrollment).

The overarching goal of the course is to introduce students to a wide range of applications of nanomechanical resonators and help develop their intuition on how mechanical degrees of freedom couple with electrons and photons. Aside from the course content, additional learning goals include strengthening students’ skills in literature review and oral presentations. The course is suitable for Physics, ECE, and ME students, among others.


This course is primarily based on active participation. You will be assigned research papers/topics in groups to present during segments of class time. 

Aside from participation, you will be asked to individually write a short review on a subtopic of your choosing. 

Tentative Schedule:

Week 1 Sept: 30: Intro Lecture
Week 2 Oct. 5: Force/mass detection Oct. 7: Force/mass detection
Week 3 Oct. 12: Tests of gravity Oct. 14: Tests of gravity
Week 4 Oct. 19: Beyond the standard limit Oct. 21: Beyond the standard limit
Week 5 Oct. 26: Optical cooling Oct. 28: Optical cooling
Week 6 Nov. 2: Nonlinear optomechanics Nov. 4: Nonlinear optomechanics
Week 7 Nov. 9: Single photon optomechanics Nov. 11: Veteran's Day
Week 8 Nov. 16: Single photon optomechanics Nov. 18: Nanomechanical qubits
Week 9 Nov. 23:  Nanomechanical qubits Nov. 25: Thanksgiving
Week 10 Nov. 30: Quantum memory elements Dec. 2: Quantum memory elements
Week 11 Dec. 7: Coupling to qubits Dec. 9: Coupling to qubits


Section Type: 
Last updated: 
May 12, 2021 - 12:23am