Detecting continuous gravitational waves with superfluid $^4$He [CL]

Direct detection of gravitational waves is opening a new window onto our universe. Here, we study the sensitivity to continuous-wave strain fields of a kg-scale optomechanical system formed by the acoustic motion of superfluid helium-4 parametrically coupled to a superconducting microwave cavity. This narrowband detection scheme can operate at very high $Q$-factors, while the resonant frequency is tunable through pressurization of the helium in the 0.1-1.5 kHz range. The detector can therefore be tuned to a variety of astrophysical sources and can remain sensitive to a particular source over a long period of time. For reasonable experimental parameters, we find that strain fields on the order of $h\sim 10^{-23} /\sqrt{\rm Hz}$ are detectable. We show that the proposed system can significantly improve the limits on gravitational wave strain from nearby pulsars within a few months of integration time.

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S. Singh, L. Lorenzo, I. Pikovski, et. al.
Fri, 17 Jun 16

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