The Centre for Space and Gravity Research was opened in July 2004 by Professor Ian Halliday, Chief Executive of PPARC as the technical section of the Astrophysics and Space Research Group in the School of Physics and Astronomy.

The Director of the Centre for Space and Gravity Research is Prof Mike Cruise The Centre has five sections led by the following staff

  • Experimental Gravitation - Dr Clive Speake
  • Ground based Detectors and Data analysis - Dr Alberto Vecchio
  • Interferometry and Optics - Dr Andreas Freise
  • Technical Support - David Hoyland
  • Solar System Instrumentation - Dr Chris Eyles

The Centre has modern accommodation in the basement of Physics West and includes facilities for instrumentation development and manufacture as well as for experimental studies of gravity and other weak forces. Electronic manufacture is carried out in electrostatically clean facilities which include surface mount capability and ESA qualified staff. Mechanical workshops are provided centrally by the School of Physics and Astronomy and include skilled staff and modern machine tools. The Centre houses design offices, clean rooms and environmental test facilities for space instrumentation, together with a facility for precision carbon fibre structure manufacture.

Specialised laboratories are maintained for cryogenic weak force experiments, optical testing, interferometry and electromagnetic-gravitational studies. Experimental projects currently being carried out include:

  1. Cryogenic torsion balances for studying Mass-Spin coupling, the Casimir force and the gravitational 1/R2 law.
  2. Interferometric readout of gravitational test masses for space applications.
  3. New interferometer topologies for ground based detectors.
  4. Gravitational wave detectors working at 100MHz.
  5. Experimental holonomy facility for detecting space-time curvature.


Major research collaborations are active with the following institutes on the identified projects:

  • Institute for Gravity Research, University of Glasgow ( AdLIGO, LISA PF, LISA )
  • Imperial College London ( STEP, LISA PF, LISA , Mass-Spin coupling )
  • Bureau Internationale des Poids et Mesures, Paris ( Precision measurement of G )
  • Stanford University ( STEP, LISA )
  • University of Hannover ( GEO, LISA PF, LISA )
  • University of Trento ( LISA PF, LISA )
  • Albert Einstein Institute for Gravitation , Potsdam ( LISA PF, LISA )


Our active projects:

Superconduction Torsion Balance SSTB
- Spherical Superconducting Torsion Balance
Einstein Telescope New Toplogies for the Einstein GW Telescope
We are part of the design team for the 3rd Generation GW observatory, Einstein Telescope (ET). Our work focuses on the design of a new interferometer topology.
Time Reversal New interactions violating time reversal symmetry:
We are searching and constraining the strengths and ranges of interactions due to new axion-like particles
GEO600 Cleanroom Commissioning of the GEO600 gravitational wave detector
We are actively participating in building one of the first instruments that might catch a gravitational wave signal
Inverse square law Physics at the frontier of Gravitation and Quantum Mechanics:
We are testing the Newton's inverse square law at sub-mm distances.
Virgo detector Advanced VIRGO optical design
The 3km long Virgo gravitational wave detector will be upgraded around 2010 to a 10 times more sensitive detector, Advanced Virgo. Our group has a leading role in the design of the optical layout for Advanced Virgo
Measurement of "G"
- Determination of Newton's constant of Gravitation
interferometry High Frequency Gravitational-Wave Detector
A pair of detectors are being developed to operate in the 100 MHz region to search for cosmological signals from the very early universe.
Casimir Force Exploring the quantum vacuum:
We are measuring the Casimir force at 4K.
interferometry Advanced Interferometric Gravitational Wave Detection
We are involved in the design of the next generation gravitational wave detectors in Europe and the USA
interferometry ALUK
- The Advanced LIGO UK Project at Birmingham
LISA PF Optical Bench LISA Pathfinder Optical Bench Mechanical Integrity
We are modelling stress levels, and mapping any cracks or defects in the candidate Zerodur baseplates for the LISA PF interferometer.
LISA PF Phasemeter Electronics Phasemeter for LISA Pathfinder
We are designing and producing a phase measurement system for the LISA Pathfinder interferometer.
Interferometric Sensing for Drag-Free Satellites
Compact interferometer development for accurate optical sensing in space.
interferometry LISA
The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna
Virgo detector Grating Interferometry
We are studying grating topologies for gravitational wave detection concerning alignment noise couplings.
Coalescing Compact Binaries Coalescing Compact Binaries
Analysing the data from ground-based instruments, we are developing algorithms which search for the chirp signals produced by the colescence of binary neutron star or black hole systems.
Stochastic Gravitational Wave Background Stochastic Gravitational Wave Background
Using the latest observations, we are able to set new limits on the energy contained in the stochastic background of gravitational waves from several cosmological sources.
Einstein Telescope logo Einstein Telescope Astrophysics Study
Birmingham is one of the institutions involved with the development of the astrophysical case for the planned Einstein Telescope.
LISA logo LISA Mock Data Challenges
The LISA spacecraft is expected to observe thousands of gravitational wave sources; we are part of an international effort preparing to analyse the wealth of information it will provide.`