Training - PhD Theses

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Developing laser interferometry at low frequencies for gravitational wave detection

Status: proposal

Advisor(s): Miquel Nofrarias
The aim of this project is to participate in the development of an interferometer setup that must reach nanometer sensitivity at low frequencies, i.e. in the millihertz band. The student will get in touch with the techniques being developed to detect gravitational waves in space, which implies laser interferometry, feedback control loops and thermal control. LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) is an ESA proposed mission designed to detect gravitational waves in space. Although gravitational waves are predicted in Einstein's General Relativity, they have not been detected to the date. LISA aims to detect gravitational radiation by putting three satellites in heliocentric orbit separated 5 million km one from each other, forming a triangle. Each spacecraft will host a test mass in nominal free-fall which is used as the end mirror of an interferometer. Laser interferometer is then used to measure relative displacements between distant test masses at the picometer level, allowing the detection of incoming gravitational waves that will show up as modulated accelerations between free falling objects. The aim of the proposed project is to familiarize the student with some of the experimental techniques required to detect gravitational waves in space.