Detecting Dark Energy with Atom Interferometry

University of Nottingham
Higgs Centre Seminar Room, JCMB
Friday, October 21, 2016
13:00 to 14:00

I will discuss the possibility that the nature of the dark energy driving  the observed acceleration of the Universe on giga-parsec scales may be determined first through metre scale laboratory based atom  interferometry experiments. I will begin by introducing the scalar fields that could be responsible for dark energy and show that in order to be compatible with fifth force constraints these fields must have a screening mechanism to hide their effects from us. Focusing in particular on one such screening mechanism, known as the chameleon, where the field's mass becomes dependent on the  environment, I will show that atom-interferometry experiments are ideally suited to detect the acceleration due to the fifth force of the chameleon field - this will then allow us to either rule out large regions of the chameleon parameter space or maybe one day to detect the force due to the dark energy field in the laboratory.