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Zeptonewton force sensing with nanospheres in an optical lattice
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Optically trapped nanospheres in high vacuum experience little friction and hence are promising for ultrasensitive force detection. Here we demonstrate measurement times exceeding 10(5) s and zeptonewton force sensitivity with laser-cooled silica nanospheres trapped in an optical lattice. The sensitivity achieved exceeds that of conventional room-temperature solid-state force sensors by over an order of magnitude, and enables a variety of applications including electric-field sensing, inertial sensing, and gravimetry. The particle is confined at the antinodes of the optical standing wave, and by studying the motion of a particle which has been moved to an adjacent trapping site, the known spacing of the antinodes can be used to calibrate the displacement spectrum of the particle. Finally, we study the dependence of the trap stability and lifetime on the laser intensity and gas pressure, and examine the heating rate of the particle in vacuum without feedback cooling.