School Seminar Program

precision measurement of spacetime: Detecting gravitational radiation

Robert Ward

Dr Robert Ward
Department of Quantum Science

The direct detection of gravitational waves (GWs), a prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, is one of the great challenges of modern physics.  Meeting the challenge requires pushing the limits of precision measurement, and after decades of R&D, advanced detectors with a displacement sensitivity of 10-20 m are under construction.  These detectors will usher in the era of gravitational wave astronomy.  I will give an overview of some of the challenges faced in building these detectors and the technologies used to meet those challenges, with a particular focus on contributions from scientists at the Australian National University.  I will also discuss several spinoff technologies developed in our laboratory at the Centre for Gravitational Physics. 

Dr Robert Ward received his PhD in Physics from the California Institute of Technology in 2010, where we worked on prototyping technology for next generation interferometric gravitational wave detectors, in particular the Advanced LIGO which is currently under construction.  He then moved onto the Astroparticle and Cosmology Laboratory in Paris, where carried out the optical design of the core components of the Advanced Virgo gravitational wave detector, also currently under construction.  He is now a Research Fellow at the Centre for Gravitational Physics in the Department of Quantum Science of the RSPE at the ANU, where he works on techniques for improving advanced gravitational wave detectors and multiple technologies for laser interferometry in space, particularly for the GRACE Follow-on mission. 

Refreshments will be held in the Tea Room after the Seminar (around 5pm)

Date & time

Thu 20 Jun 2013, 4–5pm


Leonard Huxley Lecture Theatre


Staff, students and public welcome