Carnegie Mellon University

Astro Lunch

Atomic physics tests of dark matter and dark energy

Atomic physicists have spent decades developing tools to gain complete quantum control of atoms and ions.  These tools have been used to make ever increasing precision measurements - the most prominent example being atomic optical clocks which can now measure frequencies to 10^-19 precision.  Recently there has been increasing interest in leveraging these precision tools to look for small effects from various dark matter and dark energy models. In this talk I will discuss a couple examples.  First I will discuss how precision force measurements using atom interferometry can be used to constrain various scalar field models proposed as candidates for dark energy and dark matter. Second I will discuss a new experiment using laser cooled radioactive cesium atoms to search for sterile neutrinos through total energy and momentum reconstruction.