Design of a dual species atom interferometer for space

Thilo Schuldt*, Christian Schubert, Markus Krutzik, Lluis Gesa Bote, Naceur Gaaloul, Jonas Hartwig, Holger Ahlers, Waldemar Herr, Katerine Posso-Trujillo, Jan Rudolph, Stephan Seidel, Thijs Wendrich, Wolfgang Ertmer, Sven Herrmann, André Kubelka-Lange, Alexander Milke, Benny Rievers, Emanuele Rocco, Andrew Hinton, Kai BongsMarkus Oswald, Matthias Franz, Matthias Hauth, Achim Peters, Ahmad Bawamia, Andreas Wicht, Baptiste Battelier, Andrea Bertoldi, Philippe Bouyer, Arnaud Landragin, Didier Massonnet, Thomas Lévèque, Andre Wenzlawski, Ortwin Hellmig, Patrick Windpassinger, Klaus Sengstock, Wolf von Klitzing, Chris Chaloner, David Summers, Philip Ireland, Ignacio Mateos, Carlos F. Sopuerta, Fiodor Sorrentino, Guglielmo M. Tino, Michael Williams, Christian Trenkel, Domenico Gerardi, Michael Chwalla, Johannes Burkhardt, Ulrich Johann, Astrid Heske, Eric Wille, Martin Gehler, Luigi Cacciapuoti, Norman Gürlebeck, Claus Braxmaier, Ernst Rasel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Atom interferometers have a multitude of proposed applications in space including precise measurements of the Earth’s gravitational field, in navigation & ranging, and in fundamental physics such as tests of the weak equivalence principle (WEP) and gravitational wave detection. While atom interferometers are realized routinely in ground-based laboratories, current efforts aim at the development of a space compatible design optimized with respect to dimensions, weight, power consumption, mechanical robustness and radiation hardness. In this paper, we present a design of a high-sensitivity differential dual species 85Rb/87Rb atom interferometer for space, including physics package, laser system, electronics and software. The physics package comprises the atom source consisting of dispensers and a 2D magneto-optical trap (MOT), the science chamber with a 3D-MOT, a magnetic trap based on an atom chip and an optical dipole trap (ODT) used for Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) creation and interferometry, the detection unit, the vacuum system for 10−11 mbar ultra-high vacuum generation, and the high-suppression factor magnetic shielding as well as the thermal control system. The laser system is based on a hybrid approach using fiber-based telecom components and high-power laser diode technology and includes all laser sources for 2D-MOT, 3D-MOT, ODT, interferometry and detection. Manipulation and switching of the laser beams is carried out on an optical bench using Zerodur bonding technology. The instrument consists of 9 units with an overall mass of 221 kg, an average power consumption of 608 W (814 W peak), and a volume of 470 liters which would well fit on a satellite to be launched with a Soyuz rocket, as system studies have shown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-206
Number of pages40
JournalExperimental Astronomy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the German space agency Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) with funds provided by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology under grant numbers 50 OY 1302, 50 OY 1303, and 50 OY 1304, the German Research Foundation (DFG) by funding the Cluster of Excellence “Centre for Quantum Engineering and Space-Time Research (QUEST)”, the French Space Agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, and the European Space Agency (ESA). Lluis Gesa, Ignacio Mateos and Carlos F. Sopuerta acknowledge support from Grants AYA-2010-15709 (MICINN), 2009-SGR-935 (AGAUR) and ESP2013-47637-P (MINECO). Kai Bongs acknowledges support from UKSA for the UK contribution. Baptiste Battelier, Andrea Bertoldi and Philippe Bouyer thank the “Agence Nationale pour la Recherche” for support within the MINIATOM project (ANR-09-BLAN-0026). Wolf von Klitzing acknowledges support from the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme of the EU (MatterWave, FP7-ICT-601180).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Atom interferometer
  • Bose-Einstein condensate
  • Equivalence principle test
  • Space technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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