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14 december 2018

Approved FOM programme

Number 125. 
Title Broken mirrors and drifting constants - Ultra-precise investigations of fundamental symmetries and constants at the atomic scale (FSC)
Executive organisational unit BUW
Programme management Prof.dr. W.M.G. Ubachs
Duration 2011-2016 
Cost estimate M€ 2.9

The prime goal of this programme is to test fundamental physics theories and to search for new physics beyond the Standard model through precision measurements on atoms and molecules. 

Background, relevance and implementation
The universe as we see it now, differs from how we saw it ten years ago. There exists generally accepted evidence for unknown forms of 'dark matter' and 'dark energy' in abundance larger than the known forms of baryonic matter. There exist, less widely accepted, indications for variations of fundamental constants ( a and m ) on a cosmological time scale. These findings suggest that current theories of physics are insufficient to describe nature, and there exists something hidden beyond the horizon to search for. Such new phenomena will have influen­ces at the atomic level, however tiny those may be, and such phenomena can be detected by precise measurements in systems at the atomic scale.

Ultrastable lasers will be developed to perform precision measurements on cold and control­led samples of atoms and molecules, employing techniques of laser cooling, Stark deceleration and ion trapping. Frequency comb lasers, locked to atomic clocks, will be used for determining transition frequencies at the highest accuracies. Besides performing tests of quantum electro­dynamics in atoms, we will search for hitherto not observed aspects of parity violation and variation of the fundamental constants a and m .

A further challenge of the project is to disseminate ultrastable optical signals through existing fiber networks between laboratories in the Netherlands as part of a network on a European scale. This has the dual goal of achieving the scientific goals of the programme, as well as providing novel enabling technologies for future telecom applications.

The final evaluation of this programme will consist of a self-evaluation initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen for 2016.

Please find a research highlight that was achieved in 2013 within this FOM programme here.