Exploring quantum aspects of gravitational-wave detectors

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Einstein's general theory of relativity is currently our fundamental theory about spacetime and matter. It is an elegant theory and explains the observed astronomical phenomena very well. It also predicts the existence of gravitational waves, which are ripples in spacetime propagating at the speed of light. By detecting gravitational waves created by cosmic objects such as black holes, we aim to open a new window on the Universe through gravitational-wave astronomy. The efforts for detecting gravitational waves started almost half a century ago and have turned out to be one of the most challenging endeavours in experimental science, because the amplitudes of the expected waves are extremely small. The state-of-the-art approach for gravitational wave detection is using kilometre-scale laser interferometer with tens-of-kilograms mirrors as test masses. Several such interferometric detectors have been built around the world. Their sensitivity is so great that, even though they use macroscopic components, their performance is affected and limited by tiny quantum effects. The proposed research is aiming at better understanding the various quantum aspects of gravitational wave detectors. On the one hand, this leads to new approaches to overcome the quantum-limits of current detectors, which is an essential step for realizing the ultimate goal of gravitational-wave astronomy. On the other hand, it opens up the possibility to explore quantum behaviours of macroscopic objects in a new regime.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Birmingham Fellow (permanent faculty position)
Amount £0 (GBP)
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 03/2016 
 
Description LIGO Scientific Collaboration 
Organisation LIGO Scientific Collaboration
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I have been working on different approaches to improving quantum-limited sensitivity of advanced gravitational-wave detectors. My research outcome provides direct inputs to current R&D of techniques for both near-term upgrade of current detectors and building the next-generation gravitational-wave observatories.
Collaborator Contribution They provide complimentary sets of expertise to my research. For example, my theoretical analysis is focusing on experimental setups that my partners are working on, and their feedback is essential to my research.
Impact Please refer to the publications with LIGO Scientific Collaboration as the author list. The most significant output is the recent breakthrough discovery of gravitational waves from merging of binary black holes.
 
Description CCTV America Interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I was interviewed by CCTV America to report on the breakthrough discovery of gravitational waves by LIGO.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrVfHStGVlU
 
Description GWADW 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This is a workshop on advanced gravitational-wave detectors. I have been actively involved in group discussions about techniques for improving quantum-limited detector sensitivity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://agenda.infn.it/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=10512
 
Description LVC Meeting September 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I gave a talk to report on the fundamental quantum limit to the sensitivity of gravitational-wave detectors. This is one of the key topics proposed in this funding award.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://einstein.astro.gla.ac.uk/lvc2016/
 
Description LVC meeting September 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I gave a tutorial on future advanced gravitational-wave detectors to postgraduate students. This is a part of the LIGO Academic Affairs Council (LAAC) tutorials to inform students in the collaboration of advanced topics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://einstein.astro.gla.ac.uk/lvc2016/