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Mechanical Systems at the Quantum Level

15 al 26 de Julio 2024. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

About the school

This edition of the Giambiagi school will focus on recent advances in one of the most active branches of physics in recent decades: the control of macroscopic mechanical systems at the quantum limit. In recent years, various techniques have succeeded in cooling small mechanical systems of micro- and nanometric dimensions to the limit where quantum phenomena begin to be observed. Reaching the point of observing quantum effects has required the development of new materials and new techniques such as trapping and optical control, and particularly new cooling methods. These systems offer a platform for conducting experiments on topics such as quantum gravity, the quantum-classical transition, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, the Casimir effect, and low-temperature solid-state physics.

More about the school

The XXII Juan José Giambiagi Winter School will take place at the Department of Physics, Faculty of Exact and Natural Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, between July 15th and 26th, 2024. The school will be titled “Mechanical Systems at the Quantum Limit” and will consist of several courses, each lasting three to four classes. The courses will be taught by invited professors who are highly respected international scientific figures.

The school is intended for doctoral and postdoctoral students, as well as advanced undergraduate students in Physical Sciences. There will be no registration fee for the school. The participation of students from Argentinean universities and other Latin American countries will be promoted through scholarships as funding allows.

The event will include poster presentation sessions featuring work conducted by the participants.

Speakers Giambiagi 2024

Courses Giambiagi 2024

Natalia Ares - "Single electrons, single spins, and mechanical resonators"
At the nanoscale, single electrons and single spins can be isolated. Also, mechanical resonators with large quality factors can be built. More interestingly, a rich interplay between mechanics, electron tunnelling and spin states can be engineered. I will talk about state-of-the-art platforms, the experiments that they have enabled for us and others and show the promising avenues they pave for future research.I will present how we measured the thermodynamic cost of timekeeping using a membrane just a few tens of nanometers thick. We find that the accuracy of our clock and the entropy produced by it are proportional, as predicted both for classical and quantum regimes. I will also introduce the exceptional properties of fully suspended carbon nanotube devices, combining electron tunnelling, spin physics, and motion. In these devices, we find that the coupling of electron transport to the nanotube displacement is ultra-strong. This coupling opens a wide range of possibilities for the development of promising applications in quantum information processing, high-precision sensors, cooling, and in the exploration of the foundation of quantum mechanics. We also find that the interplay between single electron tunnelling and mechanical motion, in the absence of a mechanical drive, can give rise to self-sustained oscillations. Fluctuations can make these self-oscillations irrupt, vanish, and exhibit a bistable behaviour causing hysteresis cycles. We find that self-oscillations can be stable for over 20 seconds, many orders of magnitude above electronic and mechanical characteristic timescales. I will show that the combination of single electron tunnelling and Duffing effects give rise to interesting non-linear dynamics in nanomechanical resonators. Non-linearities are particularly relevant for the exploration of chaos and for the development of spiking neurons.

BIO:  Natalia Ares is currently an associate professor at the University of Oxford. She works on experiments to advance the development of quantum technologies, focusing on the use of artificial intelligence for controlling quantum devices and quantum thermodynamics. She has received several research grants, including the Marie Skłodowska-Curie and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship. Additionally, in 2020, she received a grant from the European Research Council. During her doctoral studies, she researched silicon and germanium-based devices for quantum computing at CEA Grenoble, France. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Buenos Aires in CABA, the city where she was born and raised. Since October 2021, she has been an Associate Professor and Tutorial Fellow at New College, University of Oxford.

Diego Dalvit - Quantum Sensing
Quantum sensing promised to revolutionize sensing technologies by employing quantum states of light or matter as sensing probes. This lecture series will describe the basic theory of quantum sensing, imaging, and metrology. In the first lecture we will discuss the theoretical underpinnings of quantum sensing bases on a phase space approach and Cramer-Rao bounds. The second lecture will be devoted to describing recent experimentsÊ using light and atoms as sensing probes. Finally, the last lecture will cover a recent discovery by the speaker of quantum remote sensing based on quantum frequency combs and quantum-induced coherence by path identity . The topics covered in these lectures will give a glimpse of the profound implications quantum sensing has for fundamental and applied science.

BIO: Diego Dalvit is a staff scientist at the Theoretical Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory. He earned a PhD in Physics from University of Buenos Aires (1998), was a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at LANL (1999-2001), and became a permanent staff at LANL in 2002. He is an APS Fellow for his work on Casimir physics, and APS Outstanding Referee. His research interests are in quantum optics, quantum sensing, Casimir physics, and metamaterials. He published 2 books, 2 patents, 3 review papers, and >110 research papers, with total citations > 8400 and h-index of 47. He leads the quantum optics theory team at Los Alamos, that involves staff, postdocs and students working on various topics, ranging from space-time quantum metasurfaces to remote quantum sensing.

Ricardo Decca - "Mechanical systems at the quantum limit to detect weak interactions"
The success of the Standard Model (SM) in describing matter and interactions cannot be overstated, however it does not provide a complete description: it does not explain dark matter and dark energy, it predicts CP violations in the strong force which have not yet been observed, and there is no quantized description of gravity. This incompleteness has led to many theories to fill the gaps of the SM. One such approach is hypothesizing an interaction mediated by an as of yet undiscovered boson. If the hypothetical boson is massive it leads to Yukawa-like interactions, but if it is massless the interaction will be parameterized with a power law. It is surprising that in some range of parameters the strength of these hypothetical interactions is up to 20 orders of magnitude and it still has not been experimentally detected (or ruled out). One of the main problems to access the relevant strength is that the interacting bodies need to be placed in close proximity, at submicron separations, where vacuum fluctuations are dominant. Even when the effects of vacuum fluctuations are taken into account, the interaction is so small, that the detection system has to be exquisitely sensitive.

In my lectures I will present the different techniques and approaches used to first construct mechanical transducers able to shed light on potential interactions, and then how working in the quantum regime, where k_B T<< ℏΩ (where Ω is the characteristic frequency of the mechanical oscillator), allows for a better detection. Characteristic fundamental and technical limiting factors will be described, and current and future methods to mitigate the interaction of the mechanical system with the environment will be presented and discussed.

BIO: Ricardo Decca (Department of Physics, Indiana University Indianapolis, USA) Ricardo Decca, Professor and Chair in the Department of Physics at Indiana University Indianapolis, got his “Licenciatura” (a989) and PhD (1994) degrees from Instituto Balseiro, Argentina. He was a postdoc at the University of Maryland, USA, and in 2000 he became an Assistant Professor at Indiana University Indianapolis (then Indian University-Purdue University Indianapolis). He is co-director of the Nanoscale Imaging Center, and a founding member of the Indiana University Center for Space Symmetries (IUCSS) and the Indiana University Quantum Science and Engineering Center (QSEc), and the campus director for the Center for Quantum Technologies (CQT), a consortium between Purdue University, Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame. As a member of the American Physical Society, he he was elected a fellow in 2015 for his pioneering precision experiments in the fields of Casimir physics and new fundamental interactions. His work revolves around finding new approaches to measure feeble interactions between bodies. He uses a battery of approaches to achieve that goal, centered around scanning probes, and development of new experimental techniques.

Alex Fainstein - Cavity optomechanics with polariton fluids
From phonon lasers and asynchronous locking, to time crystals and non-reciprocal metamaterials

Cavity resonators are essential to adapt and improve interactions between photons, two-level systems, and vibrations. In this context, two important areas represent, on the one hand, systems with strong light-matter coupling, which leads to cavity exciton polaritons, and on the other hand, cavity optomechanics, which has allowed the demonstration of dynamical backaction phenomena in the interaction between light and vibrations. In the field of polaritonics, Bose-Einstein condensates of these strongly interacting quasi-particles (“light fluids”) have been demonstrated. In cavity optomechanics some milestones represent laser cooling to the quantum limit, and the stimulated emission of hypersound. Traditionally, these two areas have had little overlap, although their cross-fertilization represents a challenge that promises paradigmatic shifts in the control and applications of light-matter interactions. In these introductory talks I will describe what these fields are and how, on the one hand, polaritons enhance interactions between photons and phonons and, on the other hand, phonons confined in these resonators introduce novel and controllable dynamics in polaritonic Bose-Einstein condensates. Phenomena such as piezoelectric control of optical resonances at GHz frequencies, stimulated phonon emission, asynchronous locking of optical resonances, access to strong photon-exciton-phonon coupling phenomena as a path for microwave-light frequency conversion, spatio-temporal modulation to induce non-reciprocal transport, and the demonstration of continuous time crystals, are some of the consequences of combining photons, excitons, and phonons in semiconductor resonators.

BIO: He is a member of the Photonics & Optoelectronics Group formed at the CAB, a researcher at CNEA (National Atomic Energy Commission), Full Professor at the Balseiro Institute, and Senior Researcher at CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council). He is internationally recognized for research related to light and sound confinement in nano and micro semiconductor structures, as well as ultra-sensitive optical detection of molecules. He has supervised 10 doctoral theses and over a dozen master’s theses. He has published more than 180 papers in international journals and has given approximately 60 Invited Lectures at International Forums. He was a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Max Planck Society of Germany, and an Associate Researcher at CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) in France. He is a member of the National Academy of Exact, Physical, and Natural Sciences. He has been honored as a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation (2001); received the Bernardo Houssay Prize from SECyT (Science and Technology Secretary) and the Merit Award from the Municipal Council of San Carlos de Bariloche (2003); received the Scientific Quality Award Dra. Elizabeth Jares-Erijman from FAN (Argentine Foundation for Nature) in 2012, and the Konex Award in 2013.

Rosario Fazio - "Time Crystals and synchronization in quantum systems"
– Introduction to many-body open systems  and dissipative phase transitions.
– Dissipative state preparation.
– Measurement induced phase transitions.

BIO:  Rosario Fazio received his PhD in Physics in 1990 at the University of Catania. He held the chair of theoretical condesed matter at SISSA – Trieste (2005 – 2008) and at Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (2008 – 2019). He is currently Head of the Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics Section of the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (Trieste) and Professor of Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Naples “Federico II”. He is the Director of the Institute for Quantum Theoretical Technologies of Trieste. His reseach interests are in theoretical condensed matter and quantum information processing focusing on quantum transport in nano-devices, mesoscopic superconductivity, quantum simulators, quantum information & many-body systems, open many-body systems.

Tracy Northup -
Course description soon to be announced.

BIO: Tracy Northup is a Professor at the Institute of Experimental Physics at the University of Innsbruck. Her research focuses on using optical cavities and trapped ions as tools to explore quantum-mechanical interactions between light and matter, with applications for quantum networks and sensors. Her research team currently consists of six PhD students, three postdoctoral researchers, and two master’s students. The team works on quantum information transfer between remote ions mediated by photons; simulations of solid-state phenomena with ions in cavities; and quantum optomechanics with levitated nano-spheres.

Oriol Romero-Isart -"Quantum mechanics and decoherence in Wigner space: theoretical modeling of proposed experiments"
The ability to manipulate, measure, and control levitated nanoparticles and microparticles in an ultra-high vacuum environment has opened new horizons for both fundamental and applied research [1]. In this series of conferences, we will develop a theoretical framework to describe and understand the dynamics of the center of mass motion of such levitated particles. Our goal is to design and optimize an experimental proposal that unequivocally demonstrates their quantum mechanical nature. First, we will introduce the Wigner-Weyl formalism of quantum mechanics, which provides a clear distinction between the classical, quantum, and open dynamics of a quantum mechanical system. Equipped with this formalism, we will shift our focus towards the experimentally relevant and theoretically challenging realm of broad potentials and small fluctuations. Specifically, we will discuss a new numerical tool [2] capable of providing a numerically exact simulation of the quantum dynamics of the Wigner function in this challenging regime. We will complement this numerical tool with an analytical approach to dynamics [3], helping us understand the scaling and dependencies of various system parameters. Finally, we will use the tools we have developed to explore an experimental proposal [4] aimed at preparing the center of mass of a levitated particle in a macroscopic quantum superposition state, a state without a classical analogue. If successfully demonstrated in experiments, this macroscopic superposition state could pave the way for studying the gravitational field of a source mass placed in “two places at the same time,” which could shed light on the quantum or classical nature of gravity.

BIO: Oriol Romero-Isart is, since May 2024, an ICREA professor and group leader at ICFO (Barcelona) and future director of the Institute starting from September 2024. Romero-Isart obtained his doctorate from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in 2008. After a postdoctoral stint at the Max-Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Munich with Ignacio Cirac, he moved to Innsbruck to start his own research group in 2013. There, he was a professor at the University of Innsbruck, group leader at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) Innsbruck, and deputy director of IQOQI. His research group focuses on topics in the fields of theoretical quantum optics and mesoscopic quantum physics in the context of quantum science and technology.

Gustavo Wiederhecker - Harnessing wavelength-scale waveguides and cavities for Brillouin Optomechanics
The strength of Brillouin scattering critically depends on the momentum conservation and spatial overlap between optical and mechanical fields. Within wavelength-scale waveguides and cavities, optical and mechanical fields are fully vectorial and the common intuition that more intense fields lead to stronger interaction may fail.  In this tutorial, the major aspects ofoptical and mechanical wave confinement will be explored. We will provide a thorough discussion on how the two major physical effects responsible for the Brillouin interaction – photoelastic and moving-boundary effects– interplay to foster exciting possibilities in this field. Case studies of this interaction will be discussed and shared with the audience based on finite-element analysis through a commercial multiphysics solver.


Gustavo Wiederhecker holds an Associate Professor position at the University of Campinas, his research laboratory targets at harnessing nonlinear optical phenomena within microphotonic devices, with emphasis in the interaction between light and mechanical waves. Before joining University of Campinas in 2011, he earned his B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from the same University and has been a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University from 2008-2011. He is an affiliate member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and Associate Editor of the Journal of The Optical Society of America B (JOSA B) since 2020.


Registration is now open here.

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Registration will be open from the 7th of April until Monday, May 6th.

Limited financial help will be available to cover for acomodation or travel to Buenos Aires.




Students who wish to obtain credit for this school will have to do a final exam. More information about this will be posted soon.


Feel free to contact us with any inquiries.

Organizing committee: Schmiegelow Christian, Lombardo Fernando & Villar Paula.

Secretary: Lisbeth Muñoz