A mobile atom interferometer for high-precision measurements of local gravity
Precise measurements of Earth"s gravitational acceleration $g$ are important for a range of fundamental problems - e.g. the Watt balance as an approach for a new definition of the kilogram - and a great tool to investigate geophysical phenomena reaching from the topmost layers of soil to the very core of our planet. Recently, research efforts have been made to develop dedicated quantum sensors capable of such measurements with very high precision and accuracy. This thesis describes the design
... cribes the design and implementation of such a sensor, aiming at a superior accuracy of 0.5 ppb, resolvable in measurements of 24 h. A feature distinguishing this device from previous work is its mobility, allowing for comparison with other state-of-the-art instruments, and for applications in field use in various locations. Rubidium atoms are laser-cooled and launched on a free-fall trajectory. Exploiting the wave nature of quantum particles, coherent manipulation with light pulses is used to split, reflect and recombine the atoms" wave-packets. The resulting matter-wave interferometer is highly susceptible to inertial forces and allows for sensitive measurements of accelerations. Inertial sensing with a precision of 160 nm s^(-2) / sqrt(Hz) was demonstrated, resulting in a measurement of g with a statistical uncertainty of 0.8 nm s^(-2) in 15 h, surpassing a conventional state-of-the-art absolute gravimeter by a factor of eight. Comparison with the German gravity reference net revealed a discrepancy of 260 nm s^(-2), well covered by the combined systematic uncertainties of 520 nm s^(-2). Likely causes for this deviation are identified and suitable countermeasures are proposed.