Oliver Buchmueller and Ben Sauer (IC)

AION – A next-generation Atomic Interferometric Observatory and Network for fundamental physics

Abstract: The AION project proposes to construct and operate a next-generation Atomic Interfer- ometric Observatory and Network (AION) in Europe that will enable the exploration of properties of dark matter as well as searches for new fundamental interactions. In addi- tion, it will provide a pathway towards detecting gravitational waves from the very early Universe and astrophysical sources in the mid-frequency band ranging from several mHz to a few Hz, which is mostly unexplored as yet. The project is based on a staged plan to build a set of atom interferometers with progressive baselines up to a minimum of 10 m, which will pave the way for 100 m and eventually km-scale detectors in the future. The proposed quantum sensors are based on the superposition of atomic states and designs are taking advantage of features used by the world ’s best atomic clocks in combination with established techniques for building inertial sensors. This programme will enable the exploitation of the enormous physics potential of this frequency band with several options for ground-breaking discoveries.