The two main pillars of modern science, general relativity and quantum mechanics, are fundamentally different theories. The unique combination of expertise from quantum photonics, quantum theory, gravitational physics and astrophysics at the University of Vienna will be pivotal for strong synergy effects that allow to break the ground for an entire new research direction.
Quantum mechanics allows for a description of nature at the small scale, whereas general relativity gives access to descriptions at the very large scale, up to cosmological distances. A major hindrance to find a unfied framework for the two theories is the lack of any experimental guidance. Moreover, even the regime where quantum mechanics applies and general relativity is still treated classically has not been verified experimentally.
The research platform "Testing quantum and gravity interface with single photons (TURIS)" aims to realize the first experiments that probe the interface between quantum mechanics and general relativity at the level of individual quanta. We will use single photons as an ideally suited quantum system to investigate the influence of gravity and non-inertial motion on interference effects.
For measuring the combined effects stemming from quantum mechanics and general relativity, we will build precise interferometers whose paths experience different gravitational potential or accelerations. Based on the experimental insights we will design and perform preliminary tests for future experiments that aim to use satellites for enhancing these fundamental effects.