Background: In matterwave interferometry, atoms are put into a superposition of two different momentum states. They are then made to travel in two different paths (yes, during part of the interferometry sequence every individual atom is at two distinct places at the same time) before being recombined. Depending on the phase accumulated in the two different paths the atoms end up in two different distinguishable states. The accumulated phase is extremely sensitive to minute entry differences between the two paths travelled, making ultra-sensitive measurements of gravitation, acceleration, or rotation possible. Atoms, however, have the tendency to fall under the influence of earth’s gravitation. This means, that in order to measure at the highest precision, the apparatus has to be very large (some reaching tens or even one hundred of meters in height). The ideal solution would be to contain the atoms in waveguides (much like the optical fibres in optical gyroscopes). Until recently, this has not been possible, because even the smallest roughness in these guides destroys the coherence of the travelling matterwaves.
Our work: In a recent paper (published in Nature), we have demonstrated for the first time coherent guiding of matterwaves over macroscopic distances. This will make possible, for the first time ever, to perform guided matter-wave spectroscopy over macroscopic distances and in non-trivial geometries. This will greatly enhance the interaction time of the atoms and thus the sensitivity of matterwave interferometers.
The new PhD student will work together with our current Giannis Drougakis on the first guided matterwave interferometry. En route to this he/she will explore the limits on the roughness of waveguides, thus providing invaluable input to the design of any guided matterwave interferometer. The student(s) will work under the supervision of Wolf von Klitzing and Dimitris Papazoglou.