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Published October 2012 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

Macroscopic quantum resonators (MAQRO) - Testing quantum and gravitational physics with massive mechanical resonators


Quantum physics challenges our understanding of the nature of physical reality and of space-time and suggests the necessity of radical revisions of their underlying concepts. Experimental tests of quantum phenomena involving massive macroscopic objects would provide novel insights into these fundamental questions. Making use of the unique environment provided by space, MAQRO aims at investigating this largely unexplored realm of macroscopic quantum physics. MAQRO has originally been proposed as a medium-sized fundamental-science space mission for the 2010 call of Cosmic Vision. MAQRO unites two experiments: DECIDE (DECoherence In Double-Slit Experiments) and CASE (Comparative Acceleration Sensing Experiment). The main scientific objective of MAQRO, which is addressed by the experiment DECIDE, is to test the predictions of quantum theory for quantum superpositions of macroscopic objects containing more than 108 atoms. Under these conditions, deviations due to various suggested alternative models to quantum theory would become visible. These models have been suggested to harmonize the paradoxical quantum phenomena both with the classical macroscopic world and with our notion of Minkowski space-time. The second scientific objective of MAQRO, which is addressed by the experiment CASE, is to demonstrate the performance of a novel type of inertial sensor based on optically trapped microspheres. CASE is a technology demonstrator that shows how the modular design of DECIDE allows to easily incorporate it with other missions that have compatible requirements in terms of spacecraft and orbit. CASE can, at the same time, serve as a test bench for the weak equivalence principle, i.e., the universality of free fall with test-masses differing in their mass by 7 orders of magnitude.

Additional Information

© 2012 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited. Received: 29 April 2011; Accepted: 16 February 2012; Published online: 16 March 2012. We thank S. Hofer, G. Cole, K. Hammerer, A. Pflanzer and J. I. Cirac for valuable discussions, Johannes Burkhard for his help in designing the heat shield, T. Ziegler for his help with the 1-d DFACS for the CASE experiment, N. Brandt for his help and advice regarding the platform and experimental design, and we thank Jens Burkhard for the 3D graphics of the heat shield and the optical setups. R. K. acknowledges support from the Austrian Program for Advanced Research and Technology (APART) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and support from the European Commission (Marie Curie, FP7-PEOPLE-2010-RG). O. R. -I. and N. K. acknowledge funding by the Alexander von Humboldt foundation, and M. A. acknowledges funding by the Austrian Science Fund FWF (START, FOQUS), the European Research Council (ERC StG QOM), and the European Commission (FP7 STREP MINOS, Q-ESSENCE).

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Published - Kaltenbaek_2012p123.pdf

Submitted - 1201.4756v2.pdf


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August 22, 2023
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