Research department

Gravitational Waves and Fundamental Physics

The recent discoveries of gravitational waves by LIGO/Virgo interferometers and of Higgs boson by LHC taught us about the internal workings of the universe more than any other scientific discovery in the preceding decades. Yet more questions arose than we got answers to. Research at GWFP is targeted at finding answers to those fundamental questions.

Gravitational waves
Image: LIGO/T.Pyle

We develop new technologies for the next generation European gravitational-wave detector Einstein Telescope, designed to observe the whole Universe in GW spectrum. Gravitational waves are ripples on the fabric of space-time born in catastrophic collisions of the most massive and densest objects in the universe, the black holes and neutron stars.

To detect these tiny ripples, Einstein Telescope, the Europe’s next generation GW observatory will be built, and our group is working on a range of advanced technologies to make this reality. Maastricht University is a home for the unique experimental facility, the ET Pathfinder that will become a testbed for a range of groundbreaking cryogenic and quantum technologies to be used in the ET.

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 Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb)

We try to understand the workings of the universe on a particle level. The LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN aims to study the forces of nature - electromagnetic, strong and weak - at the smallest scales and highest energies. Especially in the early universe, right after the big bang, new particles and forces could have had a dramatic impact on the way the universe looks and behaves today. At LHCb, we specialize in measuring the matter-antimatter differences in heavy particles, called CP-violation, and making precision studies of the effects that potential new particles or forces have in very rare particle decays, through so-called quantum loops.

In Maastricht we contribute to the physics analyses, the operation of the detector at the LHC, and to the algorithms used to reconstruct physics from our data. To face the future challenges of the large amounts of data produced by the particle collisions, we study the applications of machine learning, the use of graphics processing units in high-performance computing, and explore the potential that quantum computing can offer.

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  • Quiet mirrors

    Quiet mirrors to discover our universe

    Wednesday, July 14, 2021

    Dr. Jessica Steinlechner of the Department of Gravitational Waves and Fundamental Physics (GWFP) was awarded a VIDI grant to develop mirror coatings for gravitational waves detectors.

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  • Einstein Telescope approved for ESFRI Roadmap 2021

    Thursday, July 1, 2021

    On 30 June, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) decided to include the Einstein Telescope (ET) in the 2021 upgrade of its roadmap.

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  • Dr. Jan-Simon Hennig

    GWFP researcher Dr. Jan-Simon Hennig wins Feodor-Lynen Fellowship

    Tuesday, May 18, 2021

    Hennig will be investigating thermal noise: one of the fundamental limitations in gravitational wave detectors.

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  • Prof. Stefan Hild

    ERC Advanced Grant for improved gravitational wave detection

    Thursday, April 22, 2021

    The European Research Council today announced that it will award more than €2 million to Prof. Stefan Hild as part of its ERC Advanced funding scheme.

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  • LHCb

    “Cautious excitement” among physicists: evidence of deviation from the Standard Model and rare observations at CERN

    Tuesday, March 23, 2021

    The LHCb experiment at the particle accelerator of European institute CERN, which also involves physicists from Maastricht University, today presented results that suggest a deviation from the Standard Model of physics.

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  • ET Pathfinder clean room

    Construction ETpathfinder cleanroom starts

    Wednesday, December 16, 2020

    The hightech floor of the Einstein telescope prototype was finished and now the building of the cleanroom is in full swing.

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  • Interior of a quantum computer (image: IBM)

    Maastricht University to enter quantum computing collaboration with IBM

    Monday, October 5, 2020

    Maastricht University will become the first Dutch university to enter the IBM Q Network. The goal of the collaboration is to develop the high-performance computation power required for two next-generation advanced physics detectors.

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  • Virgo and LIGO reveal new and unexpected populations of black holes

    Virgo and LIGO reveal new and unexpected populations of black holes

    Wednesday, September 2, 2020

    The research collaboration LIGO/Virgo, which leads global research into gravitational waves has presented another major discovery.

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  • ETPathfinder - hall

    Concrete progress for ETpathfinder

    Thursday, July 9, 2020

    The first visible steps towards realisation of ETpathfinder are finally complete.

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  • ETpathfinder

    ETpathfinder construction work in full swing

    Wednesday, June 3, 2020

    Meanwhile in Maastricht, the construction work for R&D-lab ETpathfinder continues.

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