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Univ. Prof. Dr. Hartmut Abele

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News Detail:

2012-07-17 [ ]

The Particles, the Cosmos and Spectroscopy of Gravity

The Viktor Hess Prize has been awarded to the Dr. Tobias Jenke by the Austrian Physical Society. Tobias Jenke is University Assistant in the Neutron and Quantum Physics Group headed by Prof. Dr. Hartmut Abele.

Neutronen zwischen zwei Platten können im Schwerefeld der Erde nur bestimmte Energiezustände annehmen.

Tobias Jenke

Every year, one excellent dissertation with the topic of Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Particle Physics, will be honored by the Austrian Physical Society with the Viktor Hess Award.
In this dissertation, Tobias Jenke reported the first demonstration of a novel spectroscopy method, which is based on quantum states of neutrons in the gravity potential of the earth. A measurement of several of such energy eigenstates allows to test Newton’s gravity law at small distances and the new method has the potential to become a new and better technique for experiments in cosmology and particle physics.

High-precision Measurements by Quantum Leaps
Nowadays precision measurements rely on quantum physics and usually they are based on the measurement of quantum jumps: a quantum mechanical object (for example, a single atom or a neutron) changes its quantum state, and these transitions can be measured as precisely as needed. The Gravity Resonance Method that was developed by the neutron physics group (Hartmut Abele) at the Institute of Atomic and Subatomic Physics of the Technical University of Vienna, and the a research group at the Institute Laue-Langevin in Grenoble (France). It analyzes a very special kind of quantum leaps. In contrast to previous methods, the investigated quantum states are not determined by electromagnetic forces but by gravity.

Dissertation on Spectroscopy of Gravity 
The award-winning thesis of Tobias Jenke is titled "qBounce - from Quantum Bouncer to Gravity Resonance Spectroscopy". This new measurement method uses the circumstance that neutrons passing through two horizontal plates in the gravitational field of the earth can only occupy certain quantum states. By a vibrating the mirror underneath, the neutrons can be transferred from one gravitational quantum state into another. By measuring the exact vibration frequency at which this happens, one knows the energy difference between the allowed quantum states - and this allows extremely precise statements about gravitation at short distances.

So that I may perceive whatever holds the world together in its inmost folds
The new method is important for several pioneering and visionary researches, from cosmology to particle physics. Of great interest is now how the energy-matter budget is built up from its constituents: baryons, photons, neutrinos, dark matter and dark energy. The new spectroscopy method allows testing for string theories, detecting new particles or seeking new forces of nature. Exactly in such research areas, experiments are very difficult to execute - therefore the gravity resonance method is a welcome new opportunity to study the basic fundamentals of physics. Still the research is looking for ways to combine the theory of gravitation and quantum theory.