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AION: Probing fundamental physics with atom interferometry

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Cold atom interferometers are sensitive to the signatures of gravitational waves, ultra-light dark matter and other fundamental physics phenomena. The development of this new class of quantum detectors will complement traditional detection methods and extend measurement capabilities in the fields of cosmology, high energy and astroparticle physics.

Seven UK institutions have embarked on developing the Atom Interferometer Observatory and Network (AION) [1], a series of differential atom interferometers using strontium with baselines (corresponding to the separation between the atom clouds in the differential measurement) between 10 m and 1 km. The initial prototyping stage will focus on technology development to support the detection goals of these devices as they increase in baseline and sensitivity. The AION project will build upon existing partnerships with the UK National Technology Hub in Sensors and Timing, the MAGIS collaboration in the US, and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. I will outline the scientific goals and describe the experimental implementation of the AION detector, exploring the ways that fundamental physics phenomena interact with ultracold atoms and allow us to apply the latest techniques in quantum technologies to a new set of challenging problems.

[1] L. Badurina et al. “AION: An Atom Interferometer Observatory and Network”, Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics 5, 011 (2020).

This talk is part of the Cavendish HEP Seminars series.

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