Gravitational Wave Interferometry and Technology Development

The detection of gravitational waves is currently one of the most challenging tasks in experimental physics. Our group engages with all aspects of this challenge, bringing new ideas into the design of detectors, as well as developing optical technologies through computational models and experiments in our laboratory.

We take an active part in the construction of large detectors such as Advanced LIGO and the design of future instruments such as the Einstein Telescope. To get a glimpse into one of our laboratories and see some group members in action, have a look at our Video Paper on the development of Laguerre-Gauss modes.

Our work includes:

  • Advanced optics for gravitational wave detectors: in order to improve the performance of future detectors, we need to develop new optical technologies and test these with simulations and develop prototypes in the lab. Recent examples include our work on alternative beam shapes and diffractive optics.
  • Numerical simulations of laser optics: computer models are an essential tool in the design and operation of complex interferometers. With the implementation of advanced optics, we have to investigate numerical methods for modelling subtle optical effects such as quantum noise or mirror surface distortions.
  • Optical design and control of interferometers: future detectors are likely to employ multiple co-located interferometers. Optimal performance requires a detailed analysis of the required multiple-input-multiple-output control systems, especially regarding noise correlations.
  • Quantum limit of gravitational-wave detectors: quantum noise limits our detector sensitivity. We are studying different approaches to reducing it, e.g., the recent active-filter idea using either atomic medium or optomechanics. In addition, we are trying to understand general principles of the quantum limit.

We are well integrated in the GEO 600 and LIGO Scientific collaborations. Our instrument activity is supported by two optical labs, electronic and mechanic workshop facilities. All our projects involve team work and are an integral part of the overall research programme of the group. You will join a dynamic team of students and post-docs working in cutting-edge optics, mechanics, numerical simulations and electronic control systems.