Probing quantum gravity effects with quantum mechanical oscillators

Michele Bonaldi, Antonio Borrielli, Avishek Chowdhury, Gianni Di Giuseppe, Bruno Morana, Paolo Piergentili, Giovanni A. Prodi, Pasqualina M. Sarro, Enrico Serra, More Authors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


Abstract: Phenomenological models aiming to join gravity and quantum mechanics often predict effects that are potentially measurable in refined low-energy experiments. For instance, modified commutation relations between position and momentum, that account for a minimal scale length, yield a dynamics that can be codified in additional Hamiltonian terms. When applied to the paradigmatic case of a mechanical oscillator, such terms, at the lowest order in the deformation parameter, introduce a weak intrinsic nonlinearity and, consequently, deviations from the classical trajectory. This point of view has stimulated several experimental proposals and realizations, leading to meaningful upper limits to the deformation parameter. All such experiments are based on classical mechanical oscillators, i.e., excited from a thermal state. We remark indeed that decoherence, that plays a major role in distinguishing the classical from the quantum behavior of (macroscopic) systems, is not usually included in phenomenological quantum gravity models. However, it would not be surprising if peculiar features that are predicted by considering the joined roles of gravity and quantum physics should manifest themselves just on purely quantum objects. On the basis of this consideration, we propose experiments aiming to observe possible quantum gravity effects on macroscopic mechanical oscillators that are preliminary prepared in a high purity state, and we report on the status of their realization. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number178
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Physical Journal D
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

The funding for the article is corrected to:
Open access funding provided by Universita degli Studi di Firenze within the CRUI-CARE Agreement.
The original article has been corrected.


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