New frontiers in quantum sensing with ultra-long interaction times

Atom interferometers have enabled us to measure forces with exceptionally high precision. Inevitably, these forces are averaged over the free-fall trajectory of the atoms (up to 10 m), since sensitivity scales with the free-fall time. This precludes measurements of localized forces. To shrink these distances we will use the optical lattice of a high finesse cavity to hold the atoms against gravity in order to perform lattice atom interferometry with ultra long interaction times. These advances will empower us to:

Search for new physics: The observed dark matter/energy content of the universe motivates several classes of theories which result in a force acting on atoms near surfaces. At similar length scales, string theory and other unification theories predict putative deviations from Newton´s inverse square law of gravity. Searching for such exotic forces requires precise characterization of atom-surface interactions induced by quantum vacuum fluctuations e.g. van der Waals-London, Casimir-Polder, and thermal-radiation induced forces. This will isolate possible contributions of exotic forces, while providing insight into the physics of quantum atom-surface interactions. Investigate optically-induced inter-particle interactions:

These interactions cause self-organization of atoms and nanoparticles into freely propagating optically-bound particles, which paves the way for exploring quantum interference of complex multi-atom systems. We will investigate interference effects with interacting ensembles of atoms exploring a variety of novel light induced collective phenomena.