Thermal decoherence is a major obstacle to the realization of quantum coherence for massive mechanical oscillators. Although optical trapping has been used to reduce the thermal decoherence rate for such oscillators, it also increases the rate by subjecting the oscillator to stochastic forces resulting from the frequency fluctuations of the optical field, thereby setting a fundamental limit on the reduction. This is analogous to the noise penalty in an active feedback system. Here, we directly measure the rethermalization process for an initially cooled and optically trapped suspended mirror, and identify the current limiting decoherence rate as due to the optical trap. Our experimental study of the trap-induced decoherence rate will enable future advances in the probing of fundamental quantum mechanics in the bad-cavity regime, such as testing of deformed commutators.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics