General Relativity and Gravitation

, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 1905–1930 | Cite as

Sources and technology for an atomic gravitational wave interferometric sensor

  • Michael Hohensee
  • Shau-Yu Lan
  • Rachel Houtz
  • Cheong Chan
  • Brian Estey
  • Geena Kim
  • Pei-Chen Kuan
  • Holger Müller
Open Access
Research Article


We study the use of atom interferometers as detectors for gravitational waves in the mHz–Hz frequency band, which is complementary to planned optical interferometers, such as laser interferometer gravitational wave observatories (LIGOs) and the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA). We describe an optimized atomic gravitational wave interferometric sensor (AGIS), whose sensitivity is proportional to the baseline length to power of 5/2, as opposed to the linear scaling of a more conservative design. Technical challenges are briefly discussed, as is a table-top demonstrator AGIS that is presently under construction at Berkeley. We study a range of potential sources of gravitational waves visible to AGIS, including galactic and extra-galactic binaries. Based on the predicted shot noise limited performance, AGIS should be capable of detecting type Ia supernovae precursors within 500 pc, up to 200 years beforehand. An optimized detector may be capable of detecting waves from RX J0806.3+1527.


Gravitational waves Atom interferometers Binary systems 



We thank Phillipe Bouyer, Mark Kasevich and Vuk Mandic for several important discussions at the 2009 DUSEL workshop in Lead, SD. We also thank Peter Bender, Flavio Vetrano and Guglielmo Tino for useful suggestions. This work is supported, in part, by a precision measurement grant of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Hohensee
    • 1
  • Shau-Yu Lan
    • 1
  • Rachel Houtz
    • 1
  • Cheong Chan
    • 1
  • Brian Estey
    • 1
  • Geena Kim
    • 1
  • Pei-Chen Kuan
    • 1
  • Holger Müller
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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