HMC Physics Colloquium

Tuesdays at 16:30 in Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning, Room B460

Jason Hogan (’03)

Stanford University

Tests of gravity and quantum mechanics using atom interferometry

March 8, 2016

Precision atom interferometry is poised to become a powerful tool for discovery in fundamental physics. Towards this end, I will describe recent, record-breaking atom interferometry experiments performed in a 10-meter drop tower that demonstrate long-lived quantum superposition states with macroscopic spatial separations. The potential of this type of sensor is only beginning to be realized, and the ongoing march toward higher sensitivity can enable a diverse science impact, including laboratory tests of general relativity and the equivalence principle, searches for dark matter, probes of quantum mechanics, and detection of gravitational waves. With the recent LIGO results, gravitational wave astronomy is particularly compelling since it provides a new window into the universe, collecting information about astrophysical systems and cosmology that is difficult or impossible to acquire by other methods. Atom interferometric gravitational wave detection offers a number of advantages over traditional approaches, including simplified detector geometries, access to low frequencies that are complementary to LIGO, and substantially reduced antenna baselines.