Abstract:
Laser trapped nanoparticles have been recently used as model systems to study fundamental relations holding far from equilibrium. Here we study, both experimentally and theoretically, a nanoscale silica sphere levitated by a laser in a low density gas. The center of mass motion of the particle is subjected, at the same time, to feedback cooling and a parametric modulation driving the system into a non-equilibrium steady state. Based on the Langevin equation of motion of the particle, we derive an analytical expression for the energy distribution of this steady state showing that the average and variance of the energy distribution can be controlled separately by appropriate choice of the friction, cooling and modulation parameters. Energy distributions determined in computer simulations and measured in a laboratory experiment agree well with the analytical predictions. We analyse the particle motion also in terms of the quadratures and find thermal squeezing depending on the degree of detuning.

Abstract:
The ability to trap and to manipulate individual atoms is at the heart of current implementations of quantum simulations, quantum computing, and long-distance quantum communication. Controlling the motion of larger particles opens up yet new avenues for quantum science, both for the study of fundamental quantum phenomena in the context of matter wave interference, and for new sensing and transduction applications in the context of quantum optomechanics. Specifically, it has been suggested that cavity cooling of a single nanoparticle in high vacuum allows for the generation of quantum states of motion in a room-temperature environment as well as for unprecedented force sensitivity. Here, we take the first steps into this regime. We demonstrate cavity cooling of an optically levitated nanoparticle consisting of approximately 10e9 atoms. The particle is trapped at modest vacuum levels of a few millibar in the standing-wave field of an optical cavity and is cooled through coherent scattering into the modes of the same cavity. We estimate that our cooling rates are sufficient for ground-state cooling, provided that optical trapping at a vacuum level of 10e-7 millibar can be realized in the future, e.g., by employing additional active-feedback schemes to stabilize the optical trap in three dimensions. This paves the way for a new light-matter interface enabling room-temperature quantum experiments with mesoscopic mechanical systems.

Abstract:
Stochastic effects from correlated noise non-trivially modulate the kinetics of non-linear chemical reaction networks. This is especially important in systems where reactions are confined to small volumes and reactants are delivered in bursts. We characterise how the two noise sources confinement and burst modulate the relaxation kinetics of a non-linear reaction network around a non-equilibrium steady state. We find that the lifetimes of species change with burst input and confinement. Confinement increases the lifetimes of all species that are involved in any non-linear reaction as a reactant. Burst monotonically increases or decreases lifetimes. Competition between burst-induced and confinement-induced modulation may hence lead to a non-monotonic modulation. We quantify lifetime as the integral of the time autocorrelation function (ACF) of concentration fluctuations around a non-equilibrium steady state of the reaction network. Furthermore, we look at the first and second derivatives of the ACF, each of which is affected in opposite ways by burst and confinement. This allows discriminating between these two noise sources. We analytically derive the ACF from the linear Fokker–Planck approximation of the chemical master equation in order to establish a baseline for the burst-induced modulation at low confinement. Effects of higher confinement are then studied using a partial-propensity stochastic simulation algorithm. The results presented here may help understand the mechanisms that deviate stochastic kinetics from its deterministic counterpart. In addition, they may be instrumental when using fluorescence-lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM) or fluorescence-correlation spectroscopy (FCS) to measure confinement and burst in systems with known reaction rates, or, alternatively, to correct for the effects of confinement and burst when experimentally measuring reaction rates.

Abstract:
We study the slow phase of thermally activated magnetic relaxation in finite two-dimensional ensembles of dipolar interacting ferromagnetic nanoparticles whose easy axes of magnetization are perpendicular to the distribution plane. We develop a method to numerically simulate the magnetic relaxation for the case that the smallest heights of the potential barriers between the equilibrium directions of the nanoparticle magnetic moments are much larger than the thermal energy. Within this framework, we analyze in detail the role that the correlations of the nanoparticle magnetic moments and the finite size of the nanoparticle ensemble play in magnetic relaxation.

Abstract:
Non-equilibrium dynamics in an interacting Fe-C nanoparticle sample, exhibiting a low temperature spin glass like phase, has been studied by low frequency ac-susceptibility and magnetic relaxation experiments. The non-equilibrium behavior shows characteristic spin glass features, but some qualitative differences exist. The nature of these differences is discussed.

Abstract:
We study the relaxation of a single colloidal sphere which is periodically driven between two nonequilibrium steady states. Experimentally, this is achieved by driving the particle along a toroidal trap imposed by scanned optical tweezers. We find that the relaxation time after which the probability distributions have been relaxed is identical to that obtained by a steady state measurement. In quantitative agreement with theoretical calculations the relaxation time strongly increases when driving the system further away from thermal equilibrium.

Abstract:
Accurate delivery of small targets in high vacuum is a pivotal task in many branches of science and technology. Beyond the different strategies developed for atoms, proteins, macroscopic clusters and pellets, the manipulation of neutral particles over macroscopic distances still poses a formidable challenge. Here we report a novel approach based on a mobile optical trap operated under feedback control that enables long range 3D manipulation of a silica nanoparticle in high vacuum. We apply this technique to load a single nanoparticle into a high-finesse optical cavity through a load-lock vacuum system. We foresee our scheme to benefit the field of optomechanics with levitating nano-objects as well as ultrasensitive detection and monitoring.

Abstract:
Levitated nanospheres in optical cavities open a novel route to study many-body systems out of solution and highly isolated from the environment. We show that properly tuned optical parameters allow for the study of the non-equilibrium dynamics of composite nano-particles with non-isotropic optical friction. We find friction induced ordering and nematic transitions with non-equilibrium analogs to liquid crystal phases for ensembles of dimers.

Abstract:
Using the recently derived Dissipation Theorem and a corollary of the Transient Fluctuation Theorem (TFT), namely the Second Law Inequality, we derive the unique time independent, equilibrium phase space distribution function for an ergodic Hamiltonian system in contact with a remote heat bath. We prove under very general conditions that any deviation from this equilibrium distribution breaks the time independence of the distribution. Provided temporal correlations decay, and the system is ergodic, we show that any nonequilibrium distribution that is an even function of the momenta, eventually relaxes (not necessarily monotonically) to the equilibrium distribution. Finally we prove that the negative logarithm of the microscopic partition function is equal to the thermodynamic Helmholtz free energy divided by the thermodynamic temperature and Boltzmann's constant. Our results complement and extend the findings of modern ergodic theory and show the importance of dissipation in the process of relaxation towards equilibrium.

Abstract:
Einstein realised that the fluctuations of a Brownian particle can be used to ascertain properties of its environment. A large number of experiments have since exploited the Brownian motion of colloidal particles for studies of dissipative processes, providing insight into soft matter physics, and leading to applications from energy harvesting to medical imaging. Here we use optically levitated nanospheres that are heated to investigate the non-equilibrium properties of the gas surrounding them. Analysing the sphere's Brownian motion allows us to determine the temperature of the centre-of-mass motion of the sphere, its surface temperature and the heated gas temperature in two spatial dimensions. We observe asymmetric heating of the sphere and gas, with temperatures reaching the melting point of the material. This method offers new opportunities for accurate temperature measurements with spatial resolution on the nanoscale, and a new means for testing non-equilibrium thermodynamics