Research activities

The Experimental Gravitation Group contributes to the development, implementation, and operation of ground- and space-based gravitational wave detectors and to the analysis and interpretation of observations; we also collaborate to projects aimed at exploring gravity in quantum systems.

Gravitational Waves

The detection of gravitational waves emitted by coalescing binaries of black holes and neutron star has recently opened a new window for multi-messenger astronomy. The search for gravitational waves is currently carried out by the ground-based detectors Advanced LIGO, Advanced Virgo (AdV) and KAGRA. In the future they will be replaced by the new generation of ground-based interferometers, such as Einstein Telescope (ET), which will be joined by space-based interferometers, such as the "Laser Interferometer Space Antenna" (LISA).

Space-Born Interferometers: LISA

The Group is involved in the design of the ESA/NASA space interferometer LISA for detecting gravitational waves from space, and led the LISA technology demonstrator (LISA Pathfinder) that successfully flew from 2015 to 2017.
Our activities include:

  • development and prototype construction of an inertial sensor for LISA;
  • construction and operation of a torsion pendulum-based facility for testing on ground of sensor performances;
  • development of electrostatic low frequency suspension system;
  • simulations and preparation for commissioning and LISA operations;
  • design and support of the whole LISA mission as members of the LISA International Science Team and of its core design body;
  • development of applications of LISA's inertial sensor in the study of Earth's gravitational field.

Ground-Based Interferometers: Advanced Virgo and Einstein Telescope

The Group is involved in the development of quantum noise suppression technologies using squeezed states of light and has responsibility for the following activities: 

  • development of the readout and adaptive optical system to maximize the coupling among optical cavities;
  • design and study of AdV's optical cavities controls;
  • commissioning at the AdV site;
  • study of sensitivity of ET for different layouts;
  • study and design of filter cavities (layout and controls) for ET;
  • development of integrated squeezed light sources on-chip.

In addition, we develop methodologies for data analysis and elaborate observational results related to:

  • searches for transient signals of generic characteristics;
  • tests of consistency of observations with available predictions.

Quantum Mechanics and Gravity

The Group collaborates on the development of:

  • experiments aimed at investigating gravitational effects in macroscopic systems in the quantum regime;
  • superconducting and quantum sensors for fundamental physics.

Membri del gruppo

Head Giovanni Andrea Prodi
Professors Rita DolesiAntonio Perreca, Stefano Vitale (prof. senior), William Joseph Weber
Researchers Francesco DimiccoliMatteo Leonardi
Postdocs Sophie Bini, Davide Dal BoscoTeodoro KlaserAndrea Miani, Lorenzo SalaDavide Vignotto
PhD students Vittorio ChiavegatoAlessandro MartiniFrancesco Venturelli
Technical Staff Damiano AviRenato MezzenaDaniele Vetrugno
Administrative Staff Karine Frisinghelli