10 m Prototype
The AEI 10 meter prototype facility will host an ultra-low noise 10 m interferometer and serve as a test bed for new gravitational-wave detector technology.
The 10 meter prototype
The primary instrument is intended to be an ultra-low noise interferometer with a layout closely resembling that of current gravitational-wave detectors. It consists of an L-shaped Michelson interferometer with approximately 10 meter long arms with Fabry-Perot cavities. This interferometer will be limited solely by quantum noise across a frequency range of 50-500 Hertz. The optical construction will be housed within a large vacuum system, which can be rapidly pumped down to pressures of the order 10−6 mbar within one week, enabling rapid turn-around times for experiments. The experiments are supported by a highly stabilized 35 Watt laser, low-noise DC power distribution, extensive environmental monitoring, full digital control infrastructure and data management.
As a prototyping facility, our primary objectives are to develop, test and evaluate techniques and technologies to improve the performance of both current and future generations of gravitational-wave detectors, and to train the next generation of scientists who will continue to develop these methods and help to operate and improve existing and future detectors.
Prototyping facilities like ours play a vital role in bridging the gap between proof-of-principle tabletop experiments and their implementation in full-scale gravitational-wave detectors. Since the prototype is not built to measure gravitational waves, we can afford to take the interferometer offline in order to install and test new devices or tweak existing parameters without fear of missing potential astronomical signals.
Exploring and overcoming the standard quantum limit
The sensitivity target is sufficient for the interferometer to be able to reach the standard quantum limit. The prototype facility utilises advanced infrastructure and a range of techniques to suppress classical and technical noise sources in order to reach this limit.
One of our main focuses at the prototype is therefore to investigate potential methods of overcoming the standard quantum limit. Quantum noise is one of the dominant noise sources (along with coating thermal noise) limiting the sensitivity of current and future gravitational-wave detectors. With an interferometer overwhelmingly limited by quantum radiation pressure noise and quantum shot noise, we will provide a facility to evaluate the performance of various quantum non-demolition techniques that can potentially help to improve sensitivity of future gravitational-wave detectors.
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