Edison Volta Prize 2018 of the European Physical Society for GEO600 researchers

Award for Karsten Danzmann and Jim Hough together with French and Italian colleagues

May 15, 2018

Prof. Karsten Danzmann, director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) in Hannover and director of the Institute for Gravitational Physics at Leibniz Universität Hannover receives the Edison Volta Prize 2018 of the European Physical Society. The European Physical Society will award him the 10,000 Euro prize jointly with Alain Brillet (Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur, Nizza), Adalberto Giazotto (INFN, Pisa; passed away in November 2017), and Jim Hough (University of Glasgow) for their contributions to the first direct detections of gravitational waves. The award ceremony takes places on the 16th of May 2018 in Como, birthplace of Alessandro Volta.

“This award by the European Physical Society to my colleagues and myself highlights the important work done by European scientists in the past decades,” says Karsten Danzmann. “Without them, the first direct detections of gravitational waves would not have been possible.

”The EPS laudation emphasizes the laureates‘ “development, in their respective countries, of key technologies and innovative experimental solutions, that enabled the advanced interferometric gravitational wave detectors LIGO and Virgo to detect the first gravitational wave signals from mergers of Black Holes and of Neutron Stars.”

Technology development at GEO600

About 1500 international researchers are jointly working on the global network of the gravitational-wave detectors LIGO, Virgo, GEO600, and KAGRA. In the GEO Collaboration, a team of Max Planck, Leibniz Universität Hannover and UK researchers – including the other laureate Jim Hough – Danzmann has been operating the GEO600 gravitational-wave detector south of Hannover, Germany, since the mid 1990s. GEO600 is a development center for novel and advanced technologies in the international gravitational-wave research community.

Many key technologies that are now employed in all large gravitational-wave detectors have been developed and tested at GEO600. AEI researchers together with the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. also developed, built, and installed the high-power laser systems at the heart of the LIGO instruments. Crucial improvements in the optical measurement principle such as simultaneous power and signal recycling where first demonstrated in GEO600 as a large gravitational-wave detector.

Squeezed light – a technology for the future

GEO600 is the only gravitational-wave detector worldwide using “squeezed light” to mitigate fundamental quantum noise effects and improve its sensitivity at high frequencies. In the future all ground-based gravitational-wave detectors will use squeezed-light sources similar to that at GEO600 to further improve their sensitivity. In early 2018, the Virgo instrument received a squeezed light source developed and built in Hannover as a permanent loan.

Edison Volta Prize

The European Physical Society, and the Centro di Cultura Scientifica “Alessandro Volta”, and Edison S.p.A. have established the “EPS Edison Volta Prize” to promote excellent research and achievement in physics.

The EPS Edison Volta Prize is awarded to individuals or groups of up to 3 persons on a biennial basis. The Prize consists of a cash award of Euro 10,000, as well as a diploma and a medal.

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