Laser localization paper appears in PRA!

Laser-defined mechanical mode of a photonic crystal membrane.
Laser-defined mechanical mode of a photonic crystal membrane.

In the field of optomechanics, the forces exerted by light have provided a particularly high level of control over the frequency and dissipation of mechanical systems at all size scales. Here we propose a new class of optomechanical systems in which light exerts a similarly profound influence over the two remaining fundamental parameters: geometry and mass. Specifically, we show that by optically levitating one lattice site of an extended mechanical crystal (image), it is possible to control the shape and spatial extent of a mechanical mode. Furthermore, owing to light’s simultaneous and constructive effect on structure’s continuum of modes, we estimate that laser light at the level of a single photon should be capable of producing a measurable effect within a realistic, chip-scale device.

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