Cooling the optical-spin driven limit cycle oscillations of a levitated gyroscope

Yoshihiko Arita, Stephen H. Simpson, Graham D. Bruce, Ewan M. Wright, Pavel Zemánek, Kishan Dholakia

Research output: Working paperPreprint


The non-conservative, azimuthal forces associated with inhomogeneous optical-spin angular momentum play a critical role in optical trapping. Intriguingly, birefringent microspheres can be stably levitated and rapidly rotated in circularly polarized optical traps in ultra-high vacuum whereas isotropic spheres are typically destabilized and expelled, even at relatively modest pressures. Here we show that the resolution of this apparent key paradox rests in the form of the orientationally averaged, effective forces acting on the spinning birefringent particle. In particular, the effective azimuthal component is heavily suppressed and highly non-linear. As a consequence, non-conservative effects are strongly, if imperfectly, inhibited. Their influence is apparent only at very low pressures where we observe the formation of noisy, nano-scale limit cycles or orbits. Finally, we show how parametric feedback can synthesize a form of dissipation, necessary to preserve limit cycle oscillation, without introducing additional thermal fluctuations. This allows the preparation of highly coherent, self-sustained oscillations with effective temperatures on the order of a milliKelvin. The tailoring of azimuthal spin forces through the material structure of a spinning, non-spherical particle opens up new opportunities for the design of ultra stable optical rotors. In addition, we have shown that the unique profile of the azimuthal force, featured in this work, allows for the formation of nano-scale limit cycles that can be stabilized and cooled. In principle, this approach could enable the cooling of limit cycles into the quantum regime, allowing for experimental realisation of quantum synchronization, or alternative ways of entangling mesoscopic bodies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2022


  • Levitated optomechanics
  • Birefringence
  • Vaterite
  • Circular polarisation
  • Transverse spin momentum
  • Nonconservative forces
  • Parametric feedback cooling
  • Bifurcations


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