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Large area atom interferometers for gravitational sensing and fundamental physics tests (Conference Presentation)
Author(s): Tim Kovachy
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Paper Abstract

Light-pulse atom interferometry—which uses optical pulses to split, recombine, and interfere quantum mechanical atomic matter waves—is a sensitive method for measuring inertial forces, making it a valuable tool for a broad set of applications and fundamental physics tests. The sensitivity of an atom interferometer scales with its enclosed spacetime area, which is proportional to the product of the maximum spatial separation reached between the two interferometer paths and the interferometer duration. Motivated by this scaling, we have realized atom interferometers that cover macroscopic scales in space (tens of centimeters) and in time (multiple seconds). I will present experimental results from the implementation of these large area interferometers as high-precision gravitational sensors. Subsequently, I will discuss a new experimental effort to use such gravitational sensors to look for new particles beyond the standard model, including light moduli associated with the compactified extra dimensions that arise in string theory, by searching for deviations from the gravitational inverse square law with improved sensitivity at the length scale of 10 cm to 1 m. This experiment could also provide a new measurement of Newton’s gravitational constant. In addition, large area atom interferometers using atom optics based on single-photon transitions on the clock transition of strontium have the potential to be excellent gravitational wave detectors in the frequency band from 300 mHz to 3 Hz, which is intermediate between the LIGO detector and the planned LISA detector. I will describe ongoing technology development efforts for an atomic gravitational wave detector.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 March 2019
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Proc. SPIE 10934, Optical, Opto-Atomic, and Entanglement-Enhanced Precision Metrology, 1093420 (5 March 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2511763
Show Author Affiliations
Tim Kovachy, Northwestern Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10934:
Optical, Opto-Atomic, and Entanglement-Enhanced Precision Metrology
Selim M. Shahriar; Jacob Scheuer, Editor(s)

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