Detecting continuous gravitational waves with superfluid helium

Presenting Author: Swati Singh, Williams College
Contributing Author(s): Laura DeLorenzo, Igor Pikovski and Keith Schwab

Direct detection of gravitational waves is opening a new window onto our universe. Here, we study the sensitivity to continuous-wave strain fields of a kg-scale optomechanical system formed by the acoustic motion of superfluid helium-4 parametrically coupled to a superconducting microwave cavity. This narrowband detection scheme can operate at very high Q-factors, while the resonant frequency is tunable through pressurization of the helium in the 0.1-1.5 kHz range. The detector can therefore be tuned to a variety of astrophysical sources and can remain sensitive to a particular source over a long period of time. For thermal noise limited sensitivity, we find that strain fields on the order of \(h\sim {10}^{-23}/\sqrt{\mathrm{Hz}}\) are detectable. Measuring such strains is possible by implementing state of the art microwave transducer technology. We show that the proposed system can compete with interferometric detectors and potentially surpass the gravitational strain limits set by them for certain pulsar sources within a few months of integration time.

Read this article online: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1367-2630/aa78cb

(Session 9a : Friday from 4:15pm-4:45pm)


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