CGA Winter Research Program

24 April 2024

The ANU Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics hosts a Winter Research Program at its HQ at The Australian National University. 

The program runs over 5 weeks from 17 June until 19 July 2024 and best suits third-year, Honours and Masters students in Physics, Astrophysics and Engineering, currently enrolled at all universities across the country. 

The students will be supervised by our world-class academics, work closely with the Gravitational Wave Laboratory – where some of the most amazing recent research breakthroughs have been initiated – and interact with our bright HDR students. 

There is a generous allowance of up to $500/week on offer, in addition, students currently enrolled at interstate universities can apply for travel and accommodation assistance. 

Projects on offer: 

  • Thermal Testing and Active Stabilisation of a Fibre Interferometers (Dr Chathura Bandutunga)

Fibre Frequency References are optical interferometers made using fibre optics which can be used to provide a measurement of the change in a laser's frequency. This measurement can then be used to correct and stabilise a laser's frequency, which is often done when using the laser for applications which require high precision. One thing that can go wrong is if the fibre reference itself becomes unstable due to thermal effects on the fibre optics. This project will aim to characterise and implement a low cost method to actively stabilise the temperature on a fibre frequency reference.

  • Building a balanced homodyne detector with high quantum efficiency (Dr Jonas Junker )

Measuring quantum states, such as squeezing, relies on converting all incoming photons into electrons. If not all photons are converted, information is lost during detection. The main goal of this project is to construct a detector with an optimal detection rate while maintaining high bandwidth and low noise levels. The process includes building, testing and optimising the detector.

  • TorPeDO - Five-laser frequency range operating optimization (Dr Sheon Chua)

The Torsion Pendulum Dual Oscillator (TorPeDO) experiment will use five lasers for its readout scheme that are simultaneously locked to each other using phase-locked loops (PLLs). To maintain stable configuration across the readout, the temperature operating ranges of the lasers need to be known. This project is a lab-based project using optical-cavity Spectrum Analyzers to characterize and optimise the operating frequency range of five lasers. The project will cover both introductory optical resonator theory as well as introductory optics lab skills.

  • Quantum squeezing at 2um wavelengths (Dr Terry McRae)

Squeezed light at longer wavelengths are of interest for future GW detectors. The CGA is developing proof-of-principle experiments around squeezed light at 2um wavelengths. This project will cover various sub-parts for the 2um work, aimed for a more advanced candidate with some optics experience.

  • Packaging of a fibre-optic laser frequency stabilisation system (Dr Ya Zhang)

Controlling the frequency drift of a free-running laser is an essential but challenging piece of any precision metrology, especially in a dynamic environment such as a spacecraft. To withstand a violent launch and day/night temperature variation in excess of 200K, careful mechincal and thermal packaging is required to protect the operation health of the laser stabilisation system. Fibre-optic frequency references are more robust and simpler than traditional bulk cavities, but they are still susceptible to ambient fluctuations in various Fourier frequency regions. This project will investigate the feasiblity of several heat-cured resin materials as a packaging medium for the fibre frequency reference, and evaluate their performance in terms of passive mechanical and thermal stability.

To apply:

  1. fill out the registration form via this link

  2. send your CV and your most recent academic transcript to  

Applications close on 26 May at 11:55pm. Successful applicants will be informed in early June. 

An information session will be held on Tuesday 7 May, 12:00-13:00 at Physics Studio (ground floor of bldg 38A). Lunch will be provided. RSVP through this link

For further information, please contact