B5 - Gravitational Wave Astronomy

B5 - Gravitational Wave Astronomy

© LIGO/T. Pyle
LIGO/T. Pyle

QuantumFrontiers researchers are world leaders in the development of laser interferometric readout systems for terrestrial and space-based gravitational wave detectors. Much of the theoretical work and technology development that made the Advanced LIGO observatories so much more sensitive, making the Nobel prize-winning first direct detection of gravitational waves possible, was performed by QuantumFrontiers researchers.

The GEO600 detector, operated by QuantumFrontiers researchers, was the first and is still the only gravitational wave observatory using squeezed quantum states of light in routine operation to improve its sensitivity. It serves as a development centre and test bed for future generations of gravitational wave observatories. The successful demonstration of the improvement of the detector’s sensitivity led to plans for the installation of squeezed light sources in all advanced gravitational wave detectors. And our technologies are integral features of third generation observatory proposals such as the Einstein Telescope (ET) observatory designed by a European study-team co-led by QuantumFrontiers scientists. Within QuantumFrontiers, we will continue our role as a “think tank” and investigate the foundations of and develop the technology for the next generations of gravitational wave detectors with significantly enhanced range, possibly culminating in the ability to listen to the “Big Bang”. For this we will tackle all noise sources, from fundamental photon shot noise and backaction noise over thermal noise to technical noise sources by employing high-power fibre-based sources of squeezed light and novel backaction evading and quantum noise cancelling techniques, employ nanostructured mirrors and higher-order modes, and develop quantum-limited technical noise suppression devices.