A new perspective on atomic gravitational wave detectors
Published 2017-07-14Version 1
Recently, it has been proposed that space-based atomic sensors may be used to detect gravitational waves. These proposals describe the sensors either as clocks or as atom interferometers. Here, we seek to explore the fundamental similarities and differences between the two types of proposals. We present a framework in which the fundamental mechanism for sensitivity is identical for clock and atom interferometer proposals, with the key difference being whether or not the atoms are tightly confined by an external potential. With this interpretation in mind, we propose two major enhancements to detectors using confined atoms, which allow for an enhanced sensitivity analogous to large-momentum-transfer (LMT) used in atom interferometry (though with no transfer of momentum to the atoms), and a way to extend the useful coherence time of the sensor beyond the atom's excited state lifetime.