Fundamental Physics with Optically Levitated Dielectric Objects

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In the past few years, optical cooling and manipulating of macroscopic objects, such as micro-mirrors and cantilevers has developed into an active field of research. In mechanical systems, the oscillator is attached to its suspension, a thermal contact that limits the motion isolation. On the other hand, when these small objects are levitated using the radiation pressure force of lasers, the excellent thermal isolation even at room temperatures helps produce very sensitive force detectors, and eventually quantum transducers for quantum computation purposes. These new techniques may have a variety of applications for fundamental physics such as short distance tests of gravity and gravitational wave detection at high frequencies. In addition, there are several proposals suggesting that optically levitated dielectrics can be cooled to the ground state of the center of mass motion,
opening the exciting possibility of creating macroscopic matter-wave interferometers.