Laser Levitation of a Macroscopic Mirror
Levitaion, originated from the Latin word "levitas", is the process that holds the object against gravity. Light carries momentum, so when light hits something, it applies a force. With enough light, it is possible to push objects around. This has been done under microscopes for some years using "optical tweezers" and also in space to push spacecraft around using solar sails.
While levitation is not new, it has never been used for testing quantum theory or as a tool for precision sensing. In recent years, however, it has gained considerable attention in the physics community for these new purposes. Such a levitated system could be used to measure changes in the gravitational force, investigation of quantum opto-mechanical effects and perhaps allow us to build a system that is sensitive to both gravitational and quantum effects, allowing tests of quantum gravity theories.
The aim of this project is towards the realisation of the world's first laser levitation of a macroscopic mirror. The student is asked to join a team of scientists and PhD students to theoretically model and/or develop components for the laser levitation experiment
You can read our original proposal in Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 183001 (2013) and a more general article in The Conversation: "Levitation is just part of the power of pushy light".
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