Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Quantum Goes Massive: Profound Effect Of Astrophysics Experiment On Future Quantum Experiments

Date:
July 18, 2009
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
An astrophysics experiment in America has demonstrated how fundamental research in one subject area can have a profound effect on work in another as the instruments used for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) pave the way for quantum experiments on a macroscopic scale.

An astrophysics experiment in America has demonstrated how fundamental research in one subject area can have a profound effect on work in another as the instruments used for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) pave the way for quantum experiments on a macroscopic scale.

LIGO is a huge experiment, funded mainly by the U.S. National Science Foundation and involving more than 600 astrophysicists worldwide, undertaken to detect gravitational waves and thereby help us monitor space through another valuable set of lenses - gravitational radiation.

By measuring tiny motions of test masses caused by passing gravitational waves, LIGO expects to directly detect this radiation, thought to stem from exotic phenomena in space such as the collisions of neutron stars and black holes, and supernovae.

Laser light is used to monitor relative displacements of interferometer mirrors, which are suspended as pendulums to act as quasi-free test masses.  Since the effect of gravitational waves is expected to be very small, LIGO detectors are sensitive enough to measure displacements smaller than one-thousandth the size of a proton for mirrors that are 4 km apart.

In different frequency bands, the sensitivity of the LIGO instruments are limited by noise arising from the quantum nature of the laser light, or by thermal noise arising from the thermal energy of the mirrors.  Observing quantum mechanical behaviour of the LIGO mirrors requires reducing the thermal noise, which may be achieved by cooling the interferometer mirrors with techniques similar to laser cooling of atoms.  However, the temperature must be brought extremely close to absolute zero (0 Kelvin, or about -273 degrees Celsius).

While absolute zero is impossible to achieve, scientists working on LIGO have used both a frictionless damping force and a magnetic restoring force to cool the mirror oscillator to about 1 millionth of a degree above absolute zero. The frictionless damping force removes energy from the mirror while the restoring force increases the frequency of the oscillator in order to avoid disturbances caused by local ground motion.

While the effort to detect gravitational waves is ongoing, the researchers have now used the LIGO apparatus to observe the oscillations of a 2.7 kg pendulum mode at a level close to its quantum ground state. The results suggest that it should be possible for quantum physicists to use the apparatus to observe quantum mechanical behaviour, such as quantum entanglement, at mass scales previously thought impractical.

While there is still work to go in strengthening the laser and reducing excess noise in the detectors, LIGO scientists Thomas Corbitt and Nergis Mavalvala of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology echo the optimism of the research article, which concludes that "the present work, reaching Microkelvin temperatures, provides evidence that interferometric gravitational wave  detectors, designed as sensitive probes of general relativity and astrophysical phenomena, can also become sensitive probes of macroscopic quantum mechanics."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. B Abbott et al. Observation of a kilogram-scale oscillator near its quantum ground state. New J. Phys., 11 073032 (13pp) DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/11/7/073032

Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "Quantum Goes Massive: Profound Effect Of Astrophysics Experiment On Future Quantum Experiments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090716093526.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2009, July 18). Quantum Goes Massive: Profound Effect Of Astrophysics Experiment On Future Quantum Experiments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090716093526.htm
Institute of Physics. "Quantum Goes Massive: Profound Effect Of Astrophysics Experiment On Future Quantum Experiments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090716093526.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) — The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

MIT's Robot Cheetah Unleashed — Can Now Run, Jump Freely

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) — MIT developed a robot modeled after a cheetah. It can run up to speeds of 10 mph, though researchers estimate it will eventually reach 30 mph. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) — Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins