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Research group | Atomic Quantum Sensors

View of the atomic Sagnac interferometer. Photo: Research group Rasel

Quantum sensors are a fascinating symbiosis of light and matter waves. Matter waves, predicted by Louis de Broglie (French physicist 1892—1987), are among the most fascinating phenomena emerging from quantum mechanics. Starting from mind-boggling experiments of matter wave interferences created by a double slit, matter wave optics developed into a novel tool for precision measurements. This group’s research of this group ranges from the fundamental aspects of matter wave optics to applications of the matter wave interferometer. 

In particular, the group is working on innovative thermal and quantum degenerate sources of matter waves, non-classical states of matter waves, propagation of matter waves in crystals of light, and the engineering of matter waves for precision metrology. The group is also one of the pioneers in exploiting matter wave interferometry for optical clocks, inertial sensors and fundamental physics. The central research projects are the implementation of a Magnesium lattice clock in cooperation with the QUEST partner Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt in Braunschweig, the realization of a Sagnac interferometer with cold atoms in cooperation with other worldwide leading groups such as the Paris observatory, chip-based atom lasers with the MPQ/ENS, and the simulation of artificial electromagnetism using matter waves with the Institut für Theoretische Physik in Hannover.

Within QUEST, the group leads the “Quantum Test of the Equivalence Principle” task group, which targets the implementation of a quantum test of the equivalence principle. The test is based on a differential matter wave interferometer comparing the free fall of potassium and rubidium isotopes. As well as terrestrial tests, the group is also leading the QUANTUS consortium to investigate the potential for increasing the sensitivity of matter wave sensors by extending the free fall of matter waves, for example in the drop tower in Bremen (ZARM), or in space.