Ph D: Ultra-cold matter waves in microgravity for atom interferometry

Our research group is devoted to the production of ultra-cold quantum gases in microgravity. The main goal is to achieve atom interferometers with large scale factor to push the sensitivity until the fundamental limits of these systems.

To test the equivalence principle with quantum particles the ICE project aims to develop a matter wave interferometer with two atomic species operating in microgravity. This apparatus is based on classical atom optics elements, i.e. laser beams creating superposition of atom states. The development of a portable experiment adapted to the airbus 0g led to the world’s first demonstration of the use of atomic inertial sensor onboard and in microgravity. Ultimately, we will carry out an initial comparison of atomic accelerometers with two different atomic species (potassium and rubidium) at 10 pm/s2, allowing to test the universality of free fall (equivalence principle).

The objective of this work consists in testing the equivalence principle with ultra-cold Rubidium and Potassium atoms. The development of this new generation of sensors is based on ultra-cold bi-species degenerated gas. It is planned to use atom cooling technics developed in the laboratories to achieve the coldest double species Rubidium-Potassium source with a compact device compliant with onboard applications. Studies will be led to get the most collimated atom sources possible to limit the velocity dispersion, hence to limit the contrast loss for long interrogation times. To reach this goal, as well as the dipole trap, optics for atoms (lens, Bragg grating…) should be set up thanks to light beams.

In parallel with the onboard experiments, a micro-gravity simulator installed in the laboratory allows to put the experiment chamber and the measurement instruments (200 kg) in weightlessness during 500 ms, and in a highly repetitive way. In the manner of the plane experiment, atoms stayed at the center of the vacuum chamber, which allows the interrogation time without changing the environment (magnetic, optical…) of the experimental measurement. The production of ultra-cold atom sources on the simulator will allow to reach the aimed sensitivity for the atom interferometer.

The work will take place at LP2N within Institut d’Optique d’Aquitaine. The candidate will be asked an advanced expertise in the following fields: atom physics and ultra-cold gas, laser, electronics, servo lock systems, computer science and signal processing.

Contact et directeur de thèse : B. BATTELIER

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Tel : 05 57 01 72 24