Potential Stars and Planets PhD Projects

Optimal Inertial isolation

Supervisors: Dr Conor Mow-Lowry (Email: conor@star.sr.bham.ac.uk) and Dr Denis Martynov (Email: dmartynov[at]star.sr.bham.ac.uk)

Gravitational wave detectors are isolated from vibrations by a complex combination of seismic and position sensors. This project will develop a radical new approach: replace all existing sensors with a single device, sensed in all directions by laser interferometers. The resulting performance improvement will open the way for measurements of gravitational-waves originating deep in the universe. This project will involve laser measurement, mechanical design, control systems, and work on-site at LIGO.

Macroscopic quantum mechanics in classical space-time

Supervisors: Dr Denis Martynov (Email: dmartynov[at]star.sr.bham.ac.uk) and Dr Haixing Miao (Email: haixing[at]star.sr.bham.ac.uk)

The necessity of quantising the gravitational field is a subject of an open debate. At the current state of physics, we do not know if the gravitational field must be quantized. The final answer must be given by an experiment. In this project, we test a conjecture of the semiclassical gravity which describes the evolution of the quantum wave function in a classical space-time. We will utilize interferometric techniques developed by the gravitational-wave community to detect ripples in space-time from mergers of black holes and neutron stars which are billions of light-year away from us. We will build two interferometers out of four suspended 10 g mirrors. The setup will be controlled using laser light and cooled down to 18 K in the Helium cryostat. The spectrum of the mirror motion will confirm or rule out predictions of the semiclassical gravity.