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Abstract

The Holometer program is a search for first experimental evidence that space-time has quantum structure. The detector consists of a pair of co-located 40-m power-recycled interferometers whose outputs are read out synchronously at 50 MHz, achieving sensitivity to spatially-correlated fluctuations in differential position on time scales shorter than the light-crossing time of the instruments. Unlike gravitational wave interferometers, which time-resolve transient geometrical disturbances in the spatial background, the Holometer is searching for a universal, stationary quantization noise of the background itself. This dissertation presents the final results of the Holometer Phase I search, an experiment configured for sensitivity to exotic coherent shearing fluctuations of space-time. Measurements of high-frequency cross-spectra of the interferometer signals obtain sensitivity to spatially-correlated effects far exceeding any previous measurement, in a broad frequency band extending to 7.6 MHz, twice the inverse light-crossing time of the apparatus. This measurement is the statistical aggregation of 2.1 petabytes of 2-byte differential position measurements obtained over a month-long exposure time. At 3-sigma significance, it places an upper limit on the coherence scale of spatial shear two orders of magnitude below the Planck length. The result demonstrates the viability of this novel spatially-correlated interferometric detection technique to reach unprecedented sensitivity to coherent deviations of space-time from classicality, opening the door for direct experimental tests of theories of relational quantum gravity.

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