In the last few years a remarkable field of study has emerged, in which we study the interaction of light with the mechanical motion of massive objects: optomechanics. With the introduction of an optical resonator, cavity optomechanical systems have been cooled to their motional ground state. This means that objects many microns in size have been observed exhibiting quantum behaviour.
Optomechanical systems can be used to coherently transduce quantum signals, or store them for long times, indicating that in the future they will be essential components in quantum networks. They also offer the potential for ultra-precise sensing, and the on-chip nature of many nanomechanical systems points the way to technological integration.
In this lecture I will introduce the basic mathematical structure of optomechanical systems, how they can be cooled, several detailed examples, and the major results from the field. I will also discuss the future implications, and the relevance to studying fundamental physics and the limits of quantum mechanics. There will be a particular focus on systems where the nanomechanical oscillator is levitated and isolated from the environment, due to its relevance to the Optical Trapping and Micromanipulation community.