Our research focuses on creating new microchip technologies and designer meta-materials which can manipulate light & sound at the nanoscale. This allows us to create circuits which route photons & phonons in the same way conventional circuitry routes electrons. By sending laser light into nano-photonic circuits, we can interact with micro-sized mechanical oscillators, allowing us to measure vibrations on the femto-meter scale (10-15 m) – a size normally reserved to describe the radius of protons. We are expanding these unique capabilities to create quantum-limited sensors which can detect accelerations, temperatures, and forces on integrated microchips and can be readily translated into emerging nanotechnology industries. These light-based sensors are now laying the groundwork towards new types of microphones, accelerometers, and inertial navigation systems which can out-perform many conventional MEMS platforms in terms of sensitivity, energy consumption, and immunity to environmental noise and jamming. While quantum mechanics describes the physics of atoms, these unique microchip resonators are so isolated from surrounding environments it allows us to explore the boundary between classical and quantum physics with massive quantum objects made of billions of atoms -- objects we can design and fabricate in a cleanroom. The idea is to create nano-mechanical sensors so sensitive and easy-to-use that we can study fundamental physics in new ways and push forward next-generation nanophotonics.
Richard Norte holds a bachelors degree in Physics and Mathematics from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Physics from California Institute of Technology. His work has been featured in Nature, Nature Photonics, Science, Physical Review Letters and on the cover of Optica and Scientific American. He is co-founder of consulting company, Nenso Solutions, which helps enable nanotechnology for next-generation industries. Our team is part of the DMN research group in the Precision and Microsystems Engineering (PME) department.