Testing local Lorentz invariance in electrodynamics

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    [Truncated abstract] This thesis presents the design, construction and operation of a new rotating mod- ern Michelson-Morley test of Lorentz invariance. The experiment measures the isotropy of the speed of light by comparing the frequencies of two orthogonally ori- ented cryogenic sapphire whispering gallery mode resonators. Putative violations of Lorentz invariance will manifest as periodic variations in the difference frequency between the two resonators, related to the changing orientation of the experiment with respect to a preferred cosmological frame. Actively rotating the experiment is advantageous for three reasons. Firstly, by careful selection of the rotation frequency in the laboratory we are able to sample the isotropy of the speed of light at a rate that coincides with the optimal frequency instabilities of the oscillators (18 seconds). Secondly, the statistics of this exper- iment are improved with respect to non-rotating (stationary) experiments, which rely on the motion of the Earth to sample the isotropy of the speed of light. This results from integrating over more periods of rotation per unit of time, compared to the sidereal rotation experienced by stationary experiments. ... Many noise sources and systematic disturbances have been characterized and the operation of the experiment optimized. Two frequencies are generated at 10 GHz with 226 kHz separation, exhibiting a fractional frequency instability of less than 2x10-14 from 5 to 500 seconds. Furthermore, the work includes a detailed analysis of the experiment within the Standard Model Extension and Robertson, Mansouri and Sexl frameworks. The sensitivity of the experiment to violations of Lorentz invariance has been derived in each of these frameworks, for both short data set and the complete full year analysis. The data has been analysed using two separate data analysis techniques, which were optimised for noise present in the data. We have operated the experiment over the course of more than one year, collect- ing data more than 30 percent of the time. By analysing over 1 year of data we were able to set the first independent limits on 8 parameters in the photon sector of the Standard Model Extension as low as 10-16 for Ke- and 10-12 for Ko+ parameters, improving upon previous non-rotating experiments by up to an order of magnitude. We have also set new a new limit on the isotropy parameter PMM = 9.4(8.1)x10-11 of the Robertson, Mansouri and Sexl framework, which is a factor of 25 improvement.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2007

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