Drumming up quantum studies

National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers have improved the coupling between electrical and mechanical oscillations in an electromechanical device by more than two orders of magnitude. The system uses an aluminum membrane suspended above an electrode to produce a capacitor that vibrates like the skin of a drum. A microwave drive signal is used to push the coupling between the natural 11 MHz resonance of the "drum skin" and the 7.5 GHz frequency of the electrical cavity, the drum itself. The work holds promise for studying mechanical motion on the quantum scale, which is important both for the behavior of lab-on-a-chip devices and micro-force sensors and in fundamental research into vibration.