Category Archives: News

SAGE selected by ESA for the feasibility study


Our proposal, to detect Gravitational Waves using atom clocks in space, was selected by ESA for the feasibility study.

Scientific objective

The scientific objective is to investigate Gravitational Waves and other fundamental aspects of gravity as well as the connection between gravitational physics and quantum physics using new quantum sensors, namely, optical atomic clocks and atom interferometers based on ultracold Strontium atoms.

Combining quantum sensing and quantum communication, SAGE is based on recent im- pressive achievements in quantum technologies for optical clocks, atom interferometers, microwave and optical links. This call provides a unique opportunity to investigate in detail the fascinating idea of this ultimate multi-purpose gravity explorer based on all the most advanced achievements in the field.

We consider a multi-satellite configuration with payload/instruments including Strontium optical atomic clocks, Strontium atom interferometers and satellite-to-satellite/satellite- to-Earth laser links.

SAGE main scientific goals are: PRIMARY GOAL:

• Observe Gravitational Waves in new frequency ranges with atomic sensors.


• Search for Dark-Matter

• Measure the Gravitational Red Shift

• Test the Equivalence Principle of General Relativity and search for spin-gravity coupling

• Define an ultraprecise frame of reference for Earth and Space and compare terrestrial clocks

• Investigate quantum correlations and test Bell inequalities for different gravitational potentials and relative velocities

• Use clocks and links between satellites for optical VLBI in Space

Although the technology for such a mission is not mature yet, it takes advantage of devel- opments for the ACES (Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space) mission and the results of ESA studies for SOC (Space Optical Clock), SAI (Space Atom Interferometer), STE-QUEST, GOAT and ongoing national projects in this frame.

Supporting scientists and institutes from ESA member states as well as from USA, China, Japan, Singapore are listed in the final section of the proposal.

SAGE Proposing Team

G. M. Tino (Lead Proposer) – Universita di Firenze, LENS, INFN, Firenze, Italy
K. Bongs – School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, UK
P. BouyerLaboratoire Photonique, Numerique et Nanosciences, Bordeaux, France
W. Ertmer – Institute for Quantum Optics, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany
L. Iess – Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Aerospaziale, Universit`a di Roma, Italy
A. Peters – Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Germany
E. Rasel – Institute for Quantum Optics, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany
A. Roura – Institut für Quantenphysik, Universität Ulm, Germany
C. Salomon – Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, France
S. Schiller – Institut für Experimentalphysik, Universität Dusseldorf, Germany
W. Schleich – Institut für Quantenphysik, Universität Ulm, Germany
F. Sorrentino – Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Sezione di Genova, Italy
U. Sterr – Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), Braunschweig, Germany
F. Vetrano – University of Urbino, Italy
P. Villoresi – Department of Information Engineering, University of Padova, Italy
W. von KlitzingIESLFORTH, Crete, Greece
P. Wolf – LNE-SYRTE, CNRS, Observatoire de Paris, France

Collimation of laser beams from optical fibers

An ESA milestone reached.

Our ESA Space-Optics project has reached a major milestone:  We have finished the development of a novel beam collimation technique, which works allows us to adjust the waist of the laser beam emitted from a fibre coupler to an arbitrary position simply by maximising the peak intensity of the laser beam at some other position.

ZERODUR collimator

This is a fiber collimator manufactured from the ultra-low expansion material ZERODUR.

In order to make the coupler space-compatible it is manufactured from ultra-low-expansion ceramics (ZERODUR) and has no moving parts.

Making BECs smile.

Just for fun… BECs can also smile:  This is a BEC loaded from a dipole trap into a TAAP trap and then propagated for some time. The picture is an absorption  image with darker standing for a higher number of atoms.

We are also learning to write  😉 … for example the letter H

An H-shaped thermal cloud of Rb87 atoms (black is more atoms)

And our latest addition …  the number 9

A BEC in a ring-accelerator. We first load a BEC into a dipole trap and then into the ring. We then accelerate the BEC to speeds, where the centripetal confinement is not sufficient to keep the BEC in the storage ring. (white=more atoms)


And of course our smiling BEC

A smiling BEC — a reproducible chance event.
(black is more atoms)

Quantum Technologies in Space (QTSpace)

We have been appointed the Greek representatives of “Quantum Technologies in Space (QTSpace)”.

The scientific and technological legacy of the 20th century includes milestones such as quantum mechanics and pioneering space missions. Both endeavours have opened new avenues for the furthering of our understanding of Nature, and are true landmarks of modern science. Quantum theory and space science form building blocks of a powerful research framework for exploring the boundaries of modern physicsthrough the unique working conditions offered by experimental tests performed in space.

Space-based sources of entangled photons promise the formation of global quantum communication networks, long-distance tests of quantum theory and the interplay between relativity and quantum entanglement.


Long free-fall times enable high-precision tests of general relativity and tests of the equivalence principle for quantum systems.

Harnessing microgravity, high vacuum and low temperature of deep space promises allowing the study of deviations from standard quantum theoryfor high-mass test particles. Space-based experiments of metrology and sensing will push the precision of clocks, mass detectors and transducers towards the engineering of novel quantum technologies.