The aim of this group is to carry out interferometric measurements on macroscopic systems at and beyond the standard quantum limit. This activity will build on and further strengthen links between the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI) in Hannover and the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow (IGR). The desired outcomes are experimental tests of novel interferometric techniques (optical systems, readout methods) for application in future gravitational wave detectors, together with demonstration of quantum-mechanical behaviour in opto-mechanical systems at the 100g mass scale.

The interferometry teams at AEI and IGR carry out world-leading research in the development of interferometric techniques, control systems and optics. We target novel methods for gravitational wave detection and macroscopic quantum mechanics. As well as experimental successes, both teams have strengths in particular areas of simulation.

By combining expertise and resources, the partners will form a world-leading group in this area. Strengths include simulation and design of low-loss, radiation pressure dominated optical systems, experience with interferometric techniques at the forefront, modern control systems, low-noise experiment design and measurement, and access to complementary prototyping facilities.

In the initial 5 year period, the group will carry out a coordinated programme of research in the areas of optical methods and control techniques, will work to commission experiments at the two prototypes and will carry out the first experiments to explore quantum-mechanical behaviour in macroscopic systems (100g-scale). Future opportunities include tests of quantum non-demolition readout methods and tests involving entanglement of macroscopic systems.


Protoype facilities

Central to this programme are the two prototype facilities:


AEI 10m prototype which

  • is designed to provide a high-stability, ultra-low noise test facility for experiments at the standard quantum limit (SQL) for 100g-scale masses
  • applies low noise techniques, developed at Glasgow and Hannover for GEO 600 and Advanced LIGO
  • is currently under construction (first interferometric experiments due in 2013)


Glasgow 10m prototype which

  • has emphasis on flexibility to allow (multiple) fast turn-around experiments
  • has been operational for almost one decade
  • focuses on tests of optical components, interferometric techniques and control methods directly related to future experiments at the SQL.