Tabletop quantum experiment could detect gravitational waves
Tiny diamond crystals could be used as an incredibly sensitive and small gravitational detector capable of measuring gravitational waves, suggests new UCL-led research.Predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity, gravitational waves are ripples in space–time generated by certain movements of massive objects. They are important to study because they allow us to detect events in the universe that would otherwise leave little or no observable light, like black hole collisions. Researchers from UCL, University of Groningen, and the University of Warwick propose a detector based on quantum technology that is 4000 times smaller than the detectors currently in use and could detect mid-frequency gravitational waves.
The study details how state-of-the-art quantum technologies and experimental techniques can be used to build a detector capable of measuring and comparing the strength of gravity in two locations at the same time. It would work by using nano-scale diamond crystals weighing 10^-17 kg. The crystals would be placed in a quantum spatial superposition using Stern-Gerlach interferometry. Spatial superposition is a quantum state where the crystals exist in two different places at the same time.
The team envision that their proposed smaller detector could be used to build a network of detectors that would be capable of picking out gravitational wave signals from background noise. This network would also be potentially useful giving precise information on the location of the objects that are creating the gravitational waves. The next step is for the team to collaborate with experimentalists to start building prototypes of the device.
(Content and Image Courtesy: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/jul/tabletop-quantum-experiment-could-detect-gravitational-waves)