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Thesis defense of Isabelle Riou

Title: Vers la détection d’ondes gravitationnelles par interférométrie atomique en cavité : nouvelles géométries optiques et premier dispositif.

Abstract : In September 2015, the LIGO detector realized the first direct observation of gravitational waves. This ground-based detector, as well as the European detector VIRGO, is based on purely optical technologies. These instruments are extremely sensitive around 100 Hz but they are limited below few tens of Hertz by several sources of cavity length noise (seismic noise, Newtonian noise...) that mimic the effect of a gravitational wave.The idea of the MIGA (Matter wave-laser based Interferometer Gravitation Antenna) is to couple an optical interferometer with several atom interferometers spatially separated to be sensitive to gravitational waves at lower frequencies (typically around 1 Hz). The cold atoms are launched in a fountain configuration and are then split, deflected and recombined by laser pulses generated in a 300 m long optical cavity. These laser pulses will benefit from the intrinsic optical gain of the resonator, which will allow them to reach the needed power to generate high order Bragg transitions and to improve the sensitivity of the atom interferometers. Each interferometer measures the local gravitational field and the motion of the cavity. The seismic noise can be rejected by doing differential measurements and by reconstructing the spatial gravitational field, one can differentiate the gravitational wave signal, which is a pure gradient at the scale of our instrument, from the Newtonian noise that has a spatial signature.The 300 m long cavities will be implemented at the LSBB laboratory in Rustrel, where the antenna will benefit from an outstanding low noise environment. This instrument will allow to map the gravitational field of the site which will be of great interest for the geological study of the karstic massif.In the frame of this project, a preliminary experiment is currently under construction at the LP2N laboratory whose objective is to generate a 87Rb interferometer in a cavity in a atomic fountain configuration. This instrument uses a new architecture of half-degenerate optical resonators to manipulate coherently the atomic cloud with Bragg transitions.

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