Physics

Atom Gyroscopes

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Science  09 Nov 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5852, pp. 889
DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5852.889a

We terrestrials tend to get our bearings from compass readings, tracking the stars, or more recently in a digital format from global positioning systems. For the likes of satellites, orbiting telescopes, and probes navigating through deep space, the systems of choice to point the way are based on gyroscopes aligned with a distant reference star. To study predictions of general relativity such as frame dragging, the effects of which would be seen as tugs on the rotation axis of the gyros, high sensitivity of the gyroscopes to rotation is a prerequisite. In this context, atom interferometers can surpass mechanical gyroscopes or optical interferometers by orders of magnitude. Wu et al. report on the development of a cold-atom interferometer in which a matter wave of Rb atoms is split in two, with both halves sent around opposite paths repeatedly and brought together again to produce an interference pattern. The phase shift is sensitive to the rotation of the interferometer. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 173201 (2007).

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