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Precision Interferometery

The Michelson interferometer is widely covered in introductory or history of physics courses, but few people realize the inherent sensitivity of the instrument's design. Inspired by the Laser-Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) project, we will show you how to use a Michelson interferometer to resolve average motions of its mirrors of less than the diameter of an individual atom, in some cases substantially less, in an undergraduate teaching-lab setting. Furthermore, we will show you how to calculate the ultimate sensitivity limits of the interferometer, based on fundamental physics, and we will discuss what steps would be necessary to achieve this kind of resolution.


Pricing and additional documentation are available at the Newtonian Labs website.