A cold-atom interferometric rotation sensor

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


Atom interferometers exploit the principle of quantum superposition to compare the evolution speeds of superposed wavefunctions by beating the oscillations of these inbuilt atomic clocks. Since atoms and their constituents have mass, charge and magnetization, atom interferometers can measure inertial motion and electric and magnetic fields, by recording their differential effect upon the interfering matterwaves.
We have developed an atom interferometer that can distinguish and control the velocities of ultracold atoms, and for enhanced fidelity we have applied NMR composite-pulse techniques. We shall use these techniques and apparatus to form a sensitive atom interferometric gyroscope that exploits the sensitivity of atomic phase to Coriolis acceleration. Ballistic atom cloud expansion maps atomic velocity to position, causing the Coriolis-dependent phase to be manifest spatially as a rotation-dependent fringe pattern, which can be imaged and the rotation rate deduced. Whereas conventional mechanical and optical gyroscopes are prone to toppling and mirror 'lock-in', the freely-moving atoms are unperturbed by the apparatus.
Beyond demonstrating and characterizing the atomic interferometer gyroscope, we shall demonstrate its miniaturization with a sealed-off atom/vacuum chamber, develop the composite-pulse sequences, and explore a quantum-enhanced read-out method borrowing from Raman quantum memory.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509747/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1922281 Studentship EP/N509747/1 29/09/2016 30/09/2020 David Elcock