In everyday life, we are intuitively accustomed to assuming massive objects exist in a definite position in space. However, quantum mechanics remarkably predicts that massive particles such as atoms can exist in a quantum superposition of two places simultaneously. Atom interferometers employ this counterintuitive phenomenon to precisely measure small forces. Here, I propose to dramatically enhance the sensitivity of these measurements by developing a new type of atom interferometer in which levitated atoms are separated over tens of meters for tens of seconds. These gigantic quantum superpositions, orders of magnitude beyond state-of-the-art, will enable new approaches to search for the mysterious dark matter making up most of our Universe’s matter and will pave the way for gravitational wave detection in a frequency range unaddressed by the LIGO or LISA detectors. This new approach will help drive efforts to develop a complete theory describing all matter and energy in our Universe.

Awards and Achievements

  • NIST Precision Measurement Grant Award ( 2019)
  • Hertz Foundation Fellowship ( 2009)