Newton STFC Capacity Building with LIGO-India

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

Abstract

With the first direct observation of gravitational waves from coalescing black holes and neutron stars by the LIGO/VIRGO Scientific collaborations (2015) there has been great interest around the world in extending the reach of the future detector network, as gravitational wave astronomy opens a new window on the Universe. Indeed with the detection of a gravitational and electromagnetic signature from GW170817, a binary neutron start inspiral, the era of multi-messenger astronomy is truly here.

With the siting of the 3rd aLIGO detector in India, an Indian megaproject, there is an essential need for critically skilled students, postdocs and early career researchers to be trained at the highest level in gravitational wave astronomy, for construction of the infrastructure & technology, development of high performance computing/machine learning algorithms and efficient data pipelines. In turn, the LIGO India project will help Indian scientific community to be a major player in the emerging research frontier of GW astronomy. There are further opportunities to captalise on the recently STFC funded A+ upgrade (STFC are supporting the $30million NSF aLIGO upgrade at 30%), allowing the LIGO India detector to integrate the most up-to-date technology when it is switched on in 2024.

Based on the model of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, there is a huge potential for inclusive growth across many areas of industry, academia and society. The UK consortia also have a strong track record of outreach & public engagement, which will be shared with our Indian collaborators; IUCAA Pune, IISER Pune, TIFR Hyderabad, Indian Institute Technology Madras and Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, who are tasked with growing the scientific community in India. We are also working to develop linkages with the Department of Atomic Energy organisations: Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar and the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore who will be leading the development of infrastructure (laser, vacuum system, suspensions and seismic isolation).

The main objectives of this proposal are to build up technical capacity and capability in India in a broad range of multidisciplinary fields associated with gravitational wave detection. This field is very wide in nature and the technologies required range from delicate mechanical instrumentation, through high and low power laser optics to signal processing and large data handling, and thus capacity built up from the work of this proposal will have wide application in other fields. We have already identified several UK-India company linkages in the areas of machine learning, sensors & autonomous systems & data algorithms, and we propose to share our experience of methods to spin-out high technology research into applied fields. A British Trade Embassy delegation to the UK in April 2019, funded by our current award, is a key indicator of the potential in this area.

The consortium behind this proposal in the UK - the Universities of the West of Scotland, Glasgow, Cardiff, Birmingham, Strathclyde, Southampton, and Sheffield - has a strong and extensive track record in detector development, data analysis and background theory and astrophysics for the gravitational wave field, as well as working with industry, in public outreach and school teacher CPD. Thus it is ideally suited to provide training for students, research assistants and early career researchers in the ODA country of India to build capacity and make these countries major contributors to the international community and to provide dedicated summer schools/workshops in the UK utilising the expansive UK training network, for training the incoming members from the ODA countries in the necessary data analysis and experimental hardware techniques. Further the consortium will arrange opportunities for researchers to travel to/from India and the UK to capacity build and perform on-site training of researchers

Planned Impact

The impact of this grant will be aligned to the three main objectives;

1. to grow technical capacity and capability in India across a broad range of research disciplines relating to the detection of gravitational waves; data analysis, numerical relativity, machine learning, interferometer control, suspension systems and vacuum science. The training network will provide specialist, multidisciplinary skills training necessary for scientific community in India to design, construct and run major research infrastructures in the form of gravitational wave detectors. This field is very wide in nature and the technologies required range from delicate mechanical instrumentation, through high and low power laser optics to signal processing and large data handling, and thus capacity built up from the work of this proposal will have wide application in Indian industry. There will also be significant benefit to the UK groups involved, by having highly motivated and innovative visiting postdocs and graduate students contributing to both the depth and the volume of our gravitational wave research. The two-way exchange will be a powerful method to build capacity and develop long lasting relationships, with potential for future upgrades to enable LIGO India to be the most advanced of the international detectors. In particular, we will harness STFC support of the A+ upgrade, sharing best practice with Indian colleagues

2. to build a strong base of entrepreneurial activity. The consortium behind this proposal has a strong and extensive track record in working with industry and in taking research from the gravitational wave community and spinning it out in applied fields. Beneficiaries of the work will include (1) optics/laser industries such as Helia Photonics, Optos, Gas Sensing Solutions, (2) data analysis & machine learning sectors including Persistent Systems Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, UUrmi, Nex Robotics and (3) vacuum vendors including Larsen & Toubro and TWI. We anticipate some of our research spin-offs such as nanokicking, MEMS gravimeters and data analysis algorithms being of particular interest to our visiting scientists. We will work closely with the British Trade Embassy to maximise the opportunities for Indian industry.

3 strengthen public outreach and school teacher CPD within India, by co-developing resources which can be used and tested in India, ultimately leading to equitable and quality education. There will also be great benefit to the UK consortium groups involved by having highly motivated and innovative visiting postdocs and graduate students contributing to both the depth and the volume of our gravitational wave research. The discovery of gravitational waves has led to a large increase in public outreach in the UK with many talks being given across the country every week. Feedback from these - often monitored by questionnaire - suggests that this activity coupled with schoolteacher CPD (in the form of videos, dedicated downloads etc) is very valuable to the effort to increase interest in STEM education across the country, and is again very portable by our visitors back to their home countries. Our outreach and impact activities are proving very effective for the training of our graduate students and early career researchers, as measured by their ever improving communication skills and industrial awareness.

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