LEAPS-MPS: Simultaneous Multiaxis Atom Interferometry for Inertial Sensing

Project Details


Matter-wave interferometers, using photon recoil momentum to split, reflect, and combine matter waves, are precise tools for measuring gravitational and inertial forces. Compared with classical inertial sensors, quantum inertial sensors based on matter-wave interferometry have shown unprecedented sensitivity and long-term stability in measuring accelerations and rotations. The state-of-the-art quantum inertial sensors are limited by the insensitivity to full axes of the inertial reference frame, the slow data update rates, and the vulnerability to vibrational noise. In this project, Dr. Wu will demonstrate matter-wave interferometers that are capable of simultaneously measuring multiple axes of accelerations or rotations, with the potential to advance quantum inertial sensors for future in-field inertial sensing and navigation. Dr. Wu will use laser cooling to trap rubidium atoms inside a pyramidal mirror and use multiaxis Raman laser pulses to carry out multiaxis interferometry of the cold atoms. Through this project, Dr. Wu will develop methods to cool the atoms inside pyramidal mirrors, split matter waves into multiple superposition states, and detect the superposition states. Dr. Wu will also implement educational activities to encourage students from underrepresented groups to join experimental physics research, teach them hands-on lab skills, and prepare them for the ongoing second quantum revolution. In this project, Dr. Wu will develop an approach and build an apparatus to demonstrate four simultaneous atom interferometers for measuring multiaxis accelerations and rotations. Dr. Wu will create a cold rubidium cloud via a magneto-optical trap inside a pyramidal mirror, and then split, reflect, and combine the atomic cloud using simultaneous Raman transitions formed by the incident laser beam and its reflections from the pyramidal mirror. Dr. Wu aims to achieve three research objectives: (1) demonstrating sub-recoil temperature cooling inside a pyramidal mirror; (2) demonstrating simultaneous Doppler-sensitive Raman transitions formed by the incident laser beam and its pyramidal reflections; (3) detecting multiple atom interferometers through an optical nanofiber-based imaging system. Additionally, Dr. Wu will promote students from underrepresented groups participating in experimental atomic physics research by developing a quantum sensing course, establishing an open-source Makerspace, and creating research positions for undergraduates and high school students.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date9/1/238/31/25


  • National Science Foundation: $249,776.00


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