AQC's Shimon Kolkowitz is part of a groundbreaking shift in gravitational wave research, as highlighted in a Physics World article. This new approach, involving tiny diamonds, could revolutionize how we detect these elusive ripples in spacetime.
Traditionally, gravitational waves are detected using kilometer-long laser interferometers like LIGO, which measure minuscule changes in length caused by these waves. However, this new research proposes a more compact method using matter-wave interferometry, a technique that could allow detectors to be just a few meters long.
The core of this innovative approach involves diamond crystals embedded with nitrogen-vacancy center spins. These tiny objects would be placed in a superposition of spin states and then exposed to a magnetic field. As they move through the field, the different spin states would follow separate paths, reuniting later. The gravitational wave's effect would be observed as a change in the phase difference between these paths.
This method, though yet to be realized, offers several advantages. It's less susceptible to noise like seismic or thermal disturbances, as the phase difference accumulates only while the crystals traverse the interferometer. Also, the absence of laser-based position measurements eliminates radiation pressure noise.
Kolkowitz notes that this technique is more direct than other matter-wave interferometry approaches, but it's also riskier since it's based on technology that still requires significant development. Despite the challenges, the potential impact of this method is immense. It could detect low- to mid-frequency gravitational waves and possibly complement or even surpass the capabilities of existing and planned detectors like LISA.
The use of diamonds for gravitational wave detection represents an exciting intersection of quantum technology and astrophysics. It illustrates how innovative approaches in quantum mechanics can lead to new ways of exploring the universe.
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