STFC PhD in Physics: A Tilt-Free Seismometer for Advanced Gravitational-Wave Detectors

Key facts

Application deadline 1 January 2018
Start date 1 April 2018
Duration 3.5 years
Level of study Postgraduate research
Award type PhD studentship
Number of studentships 1

At the centennial of Einstein's prediction of the existence of gravitational waves and after over 50 years of effort, the LIGO and Virgo Collaborations made an important announcement.

They had at last succeeded in the challenge to measure infinitesimal changes in the separation between two mirrors caused by cataclysmic events in the distant universe. Since its first observing run in fall 2015, the Advanced LIGO interferometers have made half a dozen direct detections of gravitational waves created by the collisions of black holes and of neutron stars and have brought to life a new instrument for astronomy.

The Advanced LIGO interferometers are already the most precise measurement devices in the world, but nonetheless many challenges remain along the path to further improve them. One such challenge arises from the design of the commercial seismometers that are used to provide active vibration isolation of the mirrors. The seismometers cannot distinguish between horizontal acceleration of the ground and tilt of the ground. This limits the extent of potential longitudinal control of the mirrors at frequencies where ground tilt dominates, reducing the detector up-time and inducing excess technical noise in other interferometer control systems. The goal of this PhD project is to develop a high precision tilt-free seismometer to improve the Advanced LIGO seismic isolation.

Our approach will be to suspend a seismometer on a platform which must have a low tilt resonance to provide the filtering of ground tilt and a high pendular resonance so as not to attenuate the ground translation that we wish to measure. The project will involve designing and building two suspended seismometer systems and conducting a huddle test to measure the noise-floor of the instruments. We will need to derive updated tilt-filtering requirements based on the latest Advanced LIGO data,  and measure a noise budget of our system. The ultimate goal will be to install and commission the suspended seismometer at one of the LIGO sites and demonstrate an improvement in gravitational wave strain sensitivity.

Contact

Jessica Phillips

Education Support Officer

Email:
phillipsj21@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2068 7114

Funding details

Tuition fee support Full UK/EU tuition fees
Maintenance stipend Doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum
Additional funding offered The Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) is available. There are other opportunities and benefits available to studentship holders, including an overseas fieldwork allowance (if applicable), internship opportunities, overseas institutional visits and small grants.

Eligibility criteria

Residency Open to all UK/EU students without further restrictions
Academic criteria

Applicants will be expected to meet the minimum entry requirements of their chosen postgraduate programme.

The successful applicant must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK/EU and have been ordinarily resident in the UK/EU for at least three years prior to the start of the studentship.

Contact

Jessica Phillips

Education Support Officer

Email:
phillipsj21@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2068 7114

Consideration is automatic on applying for a Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and Astronomy with a start date of 1 April 2018.

Your application should include a personal statement and CV.

In the funding section, please select 'I will be applying for a scholarship/grant' and specify that you are applying for advertised funding, stating Professor Katherine Dooley as the supervisor, and the research project title as 'A Tilt-Free Seismometer for Advanced Gravitational-Wave Detectors'.

Interviews are expected to be held in January 2018.

We reserve the right to close applications early should sufficient applications be received.

Contact

Jessica Phillips

Education Support Officer

Email:
phillipsj21@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2068 7114
Meet us at our Information Fair on 22 February 2018.

Eligible research programmes

Eligible research areas