Improving Gravitational Wave Sensitivity Detection:


Valued Senior Member

Gravitational wave detectors have opened a new window to the universe by measuring the ripples in spacetime produced by colliding black holes and neutron stars, but they are ultimately limited by quantum fluctuations induced by light reflecting off of mirrors. LSU Ph.D. physics alumnus Jonathan Cripe and his team of LSU researchers have conducted a new experiment with scientists from Caltech and Thorlabs to explore a way to cancel this quantum backaction and improve detector sensitivity.

In a new paper in Physical Review X, the investigators present a method for removing quantum backaction in a simplified system using a mirror the size of a human hair and show the motion of the mirror is reduced in agreement with theoretical predictions. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Despite using 40-kilogram mirrors for detecting passing gravitational waves, quantum fluctuations of light disturb the position of the mirrors when the light is reflected. As gravitational wave detectors continue to grow more sensitive with incremental upgrades, this quantum backaction will become a fundamental limit to the detectors' sensitivity, hampering their ability to extract astrophysical information from gravitational waves.

"We present an experimental testbed for studying and eliminating quantum backaction," Cripe said. "We perform two measurements of the position of a macroscopic object whose motion is dominated by quantum backaction and show that by making a simple change in the measurement scheme, we can remove the quantum effects from the displacement measurement. By exploiting correlations between the phase and intensity of an optical field, quantum backaction is eliminated."

more at link......

the paper:

Quantum Backaction Cancellation in the Audio Band:

We report on the cancellation of quantum backaction noise in an optomechanical cavity. We perform measurements of the displacement of the microresonator, one in reflection of the cavity and one in transmission of the cavity. We show that measuring the amplitude quadrature of the light transmitted by the optomechanical cavity allows us to cancel the backaction noise between 2 and 50 kHz as a consequence of the strong optical spring present in the detuned cavity. This cancellation yields a more sensitive measurement of the microresonator’s position with a 2 dB increase in sensitivity. To confirm that the backaction is eliminated, we measure the noise in the transmission signal as a function of circulating power and use a correlation technique between two photodetectors to remove shot noise. Remaining backaction noise would be observable as a power-dependent noise floor, which is not observed. Eliminating the effects of backaction in this frequency regime is an important demonstration of a technique that could be used to mitigate the effects of backaction in interferometric gravitational wave detectors such as Advanced LIGO, VIRGO, and KAGRA.