We are investigating different optical cavity schemes for improving the sensitivity of gravitational wave detectors in the quantum regime. 

  1. Summary of the project
  2. Eligibility criteria
  3. Readings
  4. Contact the research team
  5. How to apply
  6. Scholarships

Summary of the project

The advanced gravitational wave detectors are effectively large scale quantum devices as its limiting sensitivity is at the quantum limit.  The development of advanced techniques to improve the sensitivity of gravitational wave detectors leads to exciting new physics phenomena and techniques that may have application beyond gravitational wave detectors. The design sensitivity for advanced detector is ~10-21m @100Hz, limited mainly by Standard Quantum Limit (SQL).  The LIGO 4km detector has already achieved ~ 10-20 m level in the commission stage.  The gravitational wave group in UWA is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. We are developing techniques to further improve the sensitivity below the SQL for the advanced detectors and beyond.  Our projects cover a range of optical cavity experiments in both large and small scale, as well as theoretical analysis of such systems.

At the large scale 80m suspended cavity (with kg mirrors), we will steadily increase the light power from 10kW to 100kW inside the cavity to study the effects of radiation pressure, optical springs and opto-acoustic parametric interactions.

With the tabletop cavities, we are using microgram/nanogram mechanical resonator mirrors to investigating schemes such as optomechanically induced transparence, frequency dependent squeezing, filter cavity and white light cavity for further lowing the quantum limit for gravitational wave detectors.  These schemes are not limited in gravitational wave detectors.  For example, the 3-mode parametric interaction scheme could be used as opto-acoustic parametric amplifier (OAPA). 

As an integrated part of our project, we also have theoretical project for quantum devices to assist the design and analysis of new schemes as well as studying fundamental quantum physics.  

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Eligibility criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

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Contact the research team leader

Once you have ensured that you meet the eligibility criteria and are ready to discuss a proposal, contact the research team leader to identify a potential supervisor.
Research team leader: Dr Chunnong Zhao
I am the research director of the high optical power facility at the gravitational wave research group. I worked in this experimental gravitational wave detection for more than 15 years. Currently, I am leading the research on opto-mechanic interactions research in the large suspended optical cavity and tabletop cavities. I have close collaborations with international research groups on quantum limit for next generation gravitational wave detectors.

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How to apply

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader you should be in a position to proceed to step two of the UWA application process: 'Lodge an application'.

Different procedures apply to domestic and international students.

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Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships.

The Australian Government's Endeavour Awards and Scholarships are available to Australian applicants for study in participating countries and regions.

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

The Australian Government's Endeavour Awards and Scholarships are available to international applicants from participating countries and regions.

Indigenous students

Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.

Forrest Foundation scholarships

All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.

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