The acceleration due to the earth's gravity, typically known as g has been measured since the time of Galileo and almost every first-year physics student has made this measurement, often by timing the swing of a pendulum.
The Quantum Sensors research group at ANU builds devices that measure gravity with extreme precision, with the ability to detect variations in g below 10-8 m.s-2. These precision measurements can detect the tidal changes in gravity from the sun and moon with ease. Applications of this technology are varied and include utilising gravity as a sensor for detecting underground structures, measuring groundwater, navigation and improvements to the measurement of the gravitational constant G.
In this project, the student will assist in building a laser interferometer where one arm is a mirror under freefall in a vacuum. This is the basic "time a falling object" method of measuring gravity, taken to extreme precision with atomically referenced standards and position resolution measured in nanometers.
This project will appeal to students who are interested in lasers, optics, practical fabrication, experimentation and precision sensing. It will involve the fabrication and testing of prototypes and data analysis to identify the limitations of current designs.
An Interest in practical experimentation and fabrication however a more theoretical skew of the project is also possible if desired by the student.
1st year physics either completed or taken concurrently.