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UniKORN seminar: Space-based tests with optomechanics

April 7, 2021

We are glad to announce the upcoming UniKORN seminar block on “Space-based tests with optomechanics”.

We are glad to announce the upcoming UniKORN seminar block on Space-based tests with optomechanics with talks on the Wednesdays 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th of April at 2pm BST. Please find the details of the talks and check our ResearchSeminars profile for the details of the upcoming talks.
Block abstract:
Optomechanical systems are the most massive quantum systems that can be controlled in the laboratory to-date. As such, they make for excellent candidates for testing fundamental physics such as quantum mechanics and gravity/relativity, as well as for sensing applications in space. The space-based tests/applications range from large-mass matter-wave interferometry experiments, such as the proposed MAQRO mission, which recently has seen a technical evaluation by ESA, to internal navigation systems and frequency conversion systems for spacecrafts. 
The overarching goal of this focused block is to evaluate strategic opportunities for large-mass optomechanical systems in space based on technology heritage. A concrete outcome could be the definition of a working group formed of members across academic, industrial and agency communities to work on a roadmap for optomechanics in space. In four sessions, we will hear talks by researchers who work either at the interface of space-based optomechanics or already have experience with launching and testing new technology in space or a micro-gravity environment. The first session will provide an overview of the very successful LISA Pathfinder mission in preparation of a new space-based gravitational wave telescope, followed by two sessions with more specialised topics covering the MAQRO proposal, micro-g experiments and technology development. The last session will be a panel discussion to discuss what technical and community advances might be necessary to put optomechanics into space, and which technologies can be considered space heritage extant from for instance cold atomic, photonic and mechanical space applications.

Talk: Lisa Pathfinder and LISA
Speaker: Stefano Vitale
Date: 7th of April 2021
Time: 2pm BST
Abstract: LISA is a space-borne gravitational wave (GW)observatory under development by the European Space Agency (ESA). It aims at the GW spectrum between a few tens of micro-Hz and a fraction of a Hz, which cannot be accessed by ground-based detectors. LISA has been preceded by a precursor mission, LISA Pathfinder, that has successfully demonstrated the necessary space-time metrology. The talk will review both the basic principles of LISA and the status of its development, and the objectives, design, operations and achievements of LISA Pathfinder.

Talk: Testing quantum physics in space: challenges and progress
Speaker: Rainer Kaltenbaeck
Date: 14th of April 2021
Time: 2pm BST
YouTube live-stream link:
Abstract: Since its inception in 2010, significant progress has been made in the development of the MAQRO mission proposal to build a dedicated satellite for testing the foundations of quantum physics. In 2017, the European Space Agency (ESA) chose this as one of its New Science Ideas for future missions, and it conducted a detailed study at their Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) on the technical feasibility of a future quantum physics platform (QPPF) based on the MAQRO mission concept. The conclusion of the study was that such a mission is feasible, in principle, but that three critical, technical challenges have to be met before a potential future implementation. Here, we will discuss these challenges, recent progress, as well as planned and on-going research activities to meet these challenges.

First talk: Satellite-based Quantum Communications
Speaker: Jasminder Sidhu
Abstract: Global quantum communications is important for distributed quantum information processing over long-distances, and entanglement-enabled technologies. However, range limitations of fibre optical transmission restricts the reach of networked quantum technologies. Satellite-based quantum communication provides a practical and realisable route to intercontinental quantum networking, and is rapidly being developed. In this talk, we briefly review these developments and highlight some of the unique challenges in space-based quantum communications.
Second talk: Cooled nanoparticles in a drop tower
Speaker: Christian Vogt
Abstract: Levitated optomechanics based on levitated silica nanospheres is a promising tool for force measurements and observation of the quantum mechanical behavior of “large” masses. Especially the latter benefits strongly from a space environment, as proposed in MAQRO mission. Nevertheless, space-based experiments rely on rigorous preparation and need as much validation of the proposed techniques as possible, including under weightlessness conditions. Our approach is to operate a system with parametrically cooled nanoparticles in the drop tower in Bremen, providing 4.7 s of weightlessness time, 9.3 s in catapult mode. Beyond demonstrating feasibility, such an experiment allows for the realization of even slower nanoparticles, increased force sensitivity, or even “macroscopic” interference. This talk will discuss the various ideas for drop tower applications, its benefits for ground-based experiments, and how we can support these with our findings on optically trapped neutral atoms in the drop tower.
Third talk: Cold Atom Interferometry in Space
Speaker: Stephan Tobias Seidel
Abstract: Cold Atom Interferometers (CAI) are quantum sensors based on the interference of matterwaves that allow for measurements of accelerations and rotations with a high accuracy. The realisation of CAIs in microgravity allows to drastically increase the free interrogation time of the atoms in the CAI compared to measurements in gravity. This in turn, increases the sensitivity of the measurement as it scales quadratically with the free interrogation time. This talk will briefly discuss the principles of CAIs, their applications in space and the current state of microgravity demonstrations.
Date: 21st of April 2021
Time: 2pm BST
YouTube live-stream link:

Panel discussion: Space-based test with optomechanics
Speakers: Mike Cruise, Chris Lee, James Endicott, Daniel Oi (University of Birmingham, Space Academic Network, Open University, University of Strathclyde)
Date: 28th of April 2021
Time: 2pm BST
YouTube live-stream link:
Find the here the poster!