CGA gravitational wave scientists smash quantum noise limits

CGA PhD student Nutsinee Kijbunchoo (left) and postdoc Dr Terry McRae (right) building one of the squeezer tables at LIGO Hanford. Photo credit: N. Kijbunchoo.
2 July 2020

Results published 2 July 2020 in the prestigious journal Nature show the standard quantum limit has been breached using squeezed light technology pioneered at the Australian National University (ANU) Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics and refined at MIT on the 40kg test masses in the LIGO gravitational wave detectors. 

Standard Quantum Limit is known as the limit of humans ability to measure the position of an object before the disturbance from the measurement devices overwhelmingly disturbs the thing being measured. This limit is a consequence of quantum physics. Now our scientists have demonstrated that they can overcome this “standard” limit in gravitational wave detectors by using a special quantum engineered quantum vacuum known as “squeezed light”.

This result shows that the LIGO detectors are now poised to see the effects of quantum physics, which governs the smallest objects in the universe, on human sized objects. CGA PhD student Nutsinee Kijbunchoo and postdoctoral fellow Dr Terry McRae spent more than a year at the LIGO sites building and commissioning the squeezed light system that lead to this quantum physics breakthrough.

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