Quantum mechanics places a fundamental limit on the precision of continuous measurements. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle dictates that as the precision of a measurement of an observable (for example, position) increases, back action creates increased uncertainty in the conjugate variable (for example, momentum). In interferometric gravitational-wave detectors, higher laser powers reduce the position uncertainty created by shot noise (the photon-counting error caused by the quantum nature of the laser) but necessarily do so at the expense of back action in the form of quantum radiation pressure noise (QRPN)1. Once at design sensitivity, the gravitational-wave detectors Advanced LIGO2, VIRGO3 and KAGRA4 will be limited by QRPN at frequencies between 10 hertz and 100 hertz. There exist several proposals to improve the sensitivity of gravitational-wave detectors by mitigating QRPN5,6,7,8,9,10, but until now no platform has allowed for experimental tests of these ideas. Here we present a broadband measurement of QRPN at room temperature at frequencies relevant to gravitational-wave detectors. The noise spectrum obtained shows effects due to QRPN between about 2 kilohertz and 100 kilohertz, and the measured magnitude of QRPN agrees with our model. We now have a testbed for studying techniques with which to mitigate quantum back action, such as variational readout and squeezed light injection7, with the aim of improving the sensitivity of future gravitational-wave detectors.
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The data pertaining to this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.
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J.C. and T.C. are supported by National Science Foundation grants PHY-1150531 and PHY-1806634. N.A., A.L. and N.M. are supported by National Science Foundation grants PHY-1707840 and PHY-1404245. A portion of this work was performed in the UCSB Nanofabrication Facility. J.C. and T.C. thank D. McClelland, R. Ward and M. J. Yap for comments and discussion. The authors thank C. Wipf and V. Sudhir for comments during the manuscript preparation. This document has been assigned the LIGO document number LIGO-P1800033.
Nature thanks Warwick Bowen, Yuta Michimura and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.