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Atom-Based Test of the Equivalence Principle

Authors: Fray, Sebastian1; Weitz, Martin2

Source: Space Science Reviews, Volume 148, Numbers 1-4, December 2009 , pp. 225-232(8)

Publisher: Springer

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Abstract:

We describe a test of the equivalence principle with quantum probe particles based on atom interferometry. For the measurement, a light pulse atom interferometer based on the diffraction of atoms from effective absorption gratings of light has been developed. A differential measurement of the Earth’s gravitational acceleration g for the two rubidium isotopes 85Rb and 87Rb has been performed, yielding a difference Δg/g=(1.2±1.7)×10−7. In addition, the dependence of the free fall on the relative orientation of the electron to the nuclear spin was studied by using atoms in two different hyperfine states. The determined difference in the gravitational acceleration is Δg/g=(0.4±1.2)×10−7. Within their experimental accuracy, both measurements are consistent with a free atomic fall that is independent from internal composition and spin orientation.

Keywords: Atom interferometer; Equivalence principle; Gravity; Quantum mechanics

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11214-009-9566-x

Affiliations: 1: Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, Hans-Kopfermann-Str. 1, 85748, Garching, Germany, Email: sebf@gmx.net 2: Institut für Angewandte Physik, Wegeler Str. 8, 53115, Bonn, Germany

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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