Quantum Noise in Ring-Laser Gyroscopes
The new generation of ring-laser gyroscopes1 can compete with their mechanical counterparts. They can now operate down to a small fraction of earth rotation rate using rings of 1-m diameter, which makes them interesting for tests of metric gravitation theories.2 They have reached a sensitivity where the noise limit is only due to the quantum fluctuations, which arise from spontaneous emission of the laser atoms. Whereas all kinds of mechanical noise can be circumvented by some “tricky” techniques, there is no way around the quantum noise, which stems from the quantization of the electric field in the resonator. The final limitation of ring-laser gyroscopes is thus given by the quantum noise.3 Therefore it is important to understand this effect in detail.
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