A Caltech Library Service

Prototype Interferometry in the Era of Gravitational Wave Astronomy


Venugopalan, Gautam (2022) Prototype Interferometry in the Era of Gravitational Wave Astronomy. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/ttwp-1h12.


Since the first direct detection of gravitational wave signals from the coalescence of a pair of stella-mass black holes on 14 September 2015, a global network of terrestrial interferometric detectors, with kilometer-scale arms, have opened a new window through which the astrophysical universe can be probed. This success was the result of decades of exploratory work done on smaller-scale prototype interferometers. Even though the detection of astrophysical gravitational wave signals has become almost a routine event, prototype interferometers remain an essential tool in developing technologies for future generations of kilometer-scale detectors. They are unique in that they are large enough to probe physics that cannot be easily investigated on the table-top, but have no obligation to function as an observatory, and so can be readily modified for a wide variety of experiments. This thesis focuses on one direction in which prototype interferometry can be taken, serving as a testbed for testing the laws of quantum mechanics at the macroscopic scale. While this is in itself an interesting experimental program, it can make a direct contribution to the field of gravitational wave astronomy since future generations of terrestrial detectors are expected to be limited in their sensitivity due to measurement limits set by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Techniques to evade these limits can be demonstrated on a prototype interferometer, before embarking on an expensive program to implement them at the scale necessary for kilometer-scale observatories.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:LIGO; Interferometry; Quantum-limited metrology
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Adhikari, Rana
Thesis Committee:
  • Chen, Yanbei (chair)
  • Hutzler, Nicholas R.
  • Mawet, Dimitri
  • Adhikari, Rana
Defense Date:17 June 2021
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06242021-042731868
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription optomechanical amplifier for quantum noise reduction in laser interferometers. Article adapted for Chapter 6.
Venugopalan, Gautam0000-0003-4414-9918
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14288
Deposited By: Gautam Venugopalan
Deposited On:30 Jun 2021 15:37
Last Modified:07 Jul 2021 15:40

Thesis Files

[img] PDF - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page