New method of detecting gravitational waves will bring them closer

April 12, 2016 by David Stacey, University of Western Australia
New method of detecting gravitational waves will bring them closer

Scientists at The University of Western Australia have discovered new technology which could mean that instead of being detected a billion light years away, gravitational waves may be identified throughout 'the observable universe'.

Professor David Blair from the Australian International Gravitational Research Centre (AIGRC) at UWA said the breakthrough could eventually see hundreds of gravity wave 'events' being recorded every day.

He said the cutting-edge technology involved tiny new devices known as 'cat-flap' pendulums less than a millimetre in size which would be fitted to existing gravitational wave detectors.

"Currently the detectors can only detect huge tsunami-like waves, but with the we would be able to extend that range about seven times," Professor Blair said. 

"One of our PhD students Jiayi Qin has tested the concept as part of her thesis with very good results and we will now look to test the technology further."

Professor Blair said UWA's Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis was fabricating the first devices using a new $1 million ion beam etching machine, which had just been installed.

In a world first, scientists announced in February this year that they had observed ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe.

The finding confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity and opened an unprecedented new window to the cosmos.

UWA is part of an international project team which has spent the past seven years putting together gravitational-wave detector equipment used to regularly measure gravitational waves.

The UWA project team is headed by Professor Blair, and includes researchers Professor Linqing Wen, Professor David Coward, Professor Li Ju, Associate Professor Chunnong Zhao and Dr Eric Howell.

The detectors use powerful lasers to measure vibrations of mirrors suspended four kilometres apart at the ends of huge vacuum pipes.

Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained.

Physicists have concluded that the detected were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.

"Gravitational wave is already being applied to mineral exploration, time standards, quantum computing, precision sensors, ultra-sensitive radars and pollution monitors," Professor Blair said.

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4.3 / 5 (6) Apr 12, 2016
Not clear how they want to measure in this presentation !!
Likely theses tiny atomic force detectors will measure displacements quite smaller than a 1/10000 interatomic distances over 4km distance of heavy mass ?
5 / 5 (7) Apr 12, 2016
Detailed explanations of beautiful works in
5 / 5 (6) Apr 12, 2016
The basic principles to read of the new method :
5 / 5 (5) Apr 12, 2016
Thanks for the very interesting sources, dedereu.
The good stuff for the cat-flap detector looks like it is found at about pages 116 and 161 in the Blair slides pdf.

That 4 kilometer arm length is actually just the physical distance. The effective optical distance of the LIGO arm is increased by a mirror system at each end of the arm, for approximately 280 trips.
Apr 12, 2016
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