The Atom Interferometer Observatory and Network (AION) 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 AION collaboration is collectively working towards the first prototype detector, AION-10, using a 10-meter vertical vacuum tube under construction at the University of Oxford. As the project proceeds, we plan to extend to a full scale detector for improved physics sensitivity, spanning first 100m and ultimately 1km underground.

Researchers at Imperial college are focused on building a smaller-scale demonstrator for Ultra-High Resolution Atom Interferometry – research which will be critical for the ultimate detection of gravitational waves. The group is developing new techniques to reduce the shot noise in the AION detector by orders of magnitude beyond the current state-of-the-art, through the creation of larger samples of ultracold strontium atoms, and by using cavities to create quantum-entangled, squeezed atomic states.

Find out more

You can find out more on the Imperial AION project page.


For more information, please contact Prof Oliver Buchmueller (o.buchmueller@imperial.ac.uk), Dr Charles Baynham (c.baynham@imperial.ac.uk) or Dr Richard Hobson (r.hobson@imperial.ac.uk)