An Atom Interferometer Observatory and Network (AION)
for the exploration of Ultra-Light Dark Matter and Mid-Frequency Gravitational Waves
This is the website for the Imperial branch of the AION project. To learn more about the project as a whole, visit the AION website.
The Atom Interferometer Observatory and Network is a flagship UK project in Quantum Technology for Fundamental Physics. Our goal is to use the interference between wave-packets of laser-cooled atoms to search for gravitational waves and dark matter. By carefully measuring the difference between two atom interferometers separated by a long vacuum tube, we hope to see small wobbles as gravitational waves, or coherent dark matter fields, pass through the detector. With peak sensitivity in the few-mHz to few-Hz band, the AION detector explores a region invisible to other detector platforms, providing a unique window into new physics.
The first AION-10 prototype detector, using a 10-meter vertical vacuum tube, is currently under construction at the University of Oxford with planned operation in 2-3 years. As the project proceeds, we plan to extend to a full scale detector spanning first 100m and ultimately 1km underground. Suitable sites for the 100m detector are currently being surveyed.
Learn about the USOC project to develop ultra-precise, shock-resistant optical clocks using a continuous stream of ultracold strontium atoms in a moving optical lattice
Learn more about the core vision of AION: a 4-stage project aiming to build gravitaional wave and dark matter detectors at the km-scale using cutting-edge techniques from quantum science.
The physics case for AION - our proposed sensitivity to dark matter and gravitational waves explained.