Physics at Virginia

Equivalence Principle To Be Tested At Quantum Level In Cold Atom Lab Aboard The International Space Station

Thursday, November 16 2023

Congratulations to UVa Physics Professor Cass Sackett and colleagues, who have published a paper in the journal Nature in which they describe recent results at the Cold Atom Lab onboard the International Space Station. In this work, potassium atoms and rubidium atoms are simultaneously cooled to near zero temperature, and then probed using atom interferometry techniques. The ability to control two distinct elements in this way will be crucial for future goals to test Einstein’s Equivalence Principle at the quantum level, which states that atoms of different species should all orbit the earth in exactly the same way. The work also paves the way towards exploring interactions between ultracold atoms in a microgravity environment, which is useful because the mass difference tends to dominate all other effects when the atoms are in gravity.

The article is available at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06645-w

Tags: Cass Sackett