Nowadays, gravitational detectors are truly enormous. But, if the nano-diamond based detector becomes reality they could fit on top of your table.
Would you like to detect gravitational waves in your home? Since current gravitational observatories – such as LIGO – measure in kilometers it sounds insane. But it may be true. Ryan Marshman from the University College London and his colleagues designed a gravitational wave detector that uses nano-diamonds and could fit on a normal table. If it becomes reality, it will be a revolution in physics.
The small gravitational wave detector from Marshman’s team uses a nano-diamond with a specific defect – the so-called nitrogen-vacancy center (NV). This defect gets created by exchanging two carbon atoms in the crystal matrix by a nitrogen atom and an empty spot.
But how would this work? Especially since we just got the gigantic detectors such as LIGO to work and the job is hard even for them. Well, the authors of the design use an electron placed in the NV center of the diamond. From its magnetic spin, we can figure out tiny interference created by gravitational waves. So its essentially sort of an interferometer and the whole nano-diamond is a large quantum object.
Current best gravitational wave detector interferometers are large and use a laser beam to detect gravitational waves. The tabletop gravitational wave detector with a nano-diamond uses a quantum effect activated by photons. As the researchers say, this new technology that was actually created as a by-product of another research could find its place even in other types of measurements than gravitational wave detection such as ultra-low energy physics or in the development of quantum computers.
So, this sounds amazing! But it does have a problem. The design is purely theoretical. For the time being. We do have the technologies to create them but we will have to develop a functional prototype and then tools for mass production. Though hopefully, this should not be that much of a problem and we could soon see gravitational wave detectors in many laboratories around the world.
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