Quantum Optomechanics for Space Applications

Quantum optomechanics explores the interaction between radiation and mechanical degrees of freedom of a system by using quantum mechanical models of the electromagnetic field and the mechanical matter. It could play a significant role in future space missions such as using massive mechanical mirrors for high-mass matter-wave interferometry to test foundations of physics or for controlling quantum noise for gravitational wave detection. These are challenging to implement due to special requirements that should be met depending on the orbit, radiation, temperature gradients, mass and size restrictions, long-term stability, extreme forces during the launch phase, etc. A central problem in such space missions is efficient manipulation of heat transfer, in addition to receiving and rejecting heat. Another heat related major problem is to cool scientific instruments on board a spacecraft. This is achieved by either passively, using background thermal radiation in deep space, or actively, which is not preferred due to requirement of massive cryogenic components such as Helium tanks. Small, compact, and efficient cooling systems are highly sought for space applications. Existing studies are mainly instrument-specific and limited to classical models. Rapidly developing modern field of quantum thermodynamics promises quantum refrigerators with few qubits as well as highly efficient quantum heat transfer modules which can offer enabling technologies for space missions such as quantum-engineered functionalized interface surfaces and quantum heat machines.

Funding: EU-COST Action (CA15220) and TUBITAK (116F303)