Finding Gravitational Waves with Gore Cables

Nobel Prize in Physics to Three Scientists

Gore High Flex Cables

GORE® High Flex Cables transmitted the signals needed to enable the discovery of gravitational waves.

This year’s Nobel Prize in physics went to three U.S. physicists, but in fact it’s a success that can be attributed to more than a thousand scientists ... and, in part, to Gore’s technology.

In September 2015, researchers from the U.S. Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) — using GORE® High Flex cables — detected signals caused by the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago. After four months of validation, it was certain: Gravitational waves, predicted by Albert Einstein in the framework of his general theory of relativity in 1915, do exist. The news was celebrated as a sensation among experts in February 2016. And, in October, Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne were announced as Nobel Prize recipients. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences recognized the three physicists “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves,” as officially stated. The LIGO consortium operates two identical gigantic interferometers located in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, and works closely with the European sister facility VIRGO operated by the European Gravitational Observatory. A laser interferometer is an investigative tool that merges two or more sources of light to create an interference pattern, which can then be measured and analyzed. GORE® High Flex Cables transmitted the electrical power and signal to photodetectors within the interferometers and transported the gravitational wave signal to the outside world. The cables were chosen for their low mass, high flexibility, and low outgassing rate.

Application engineer Peter Proeckl from Gore Germany who initially developed the cables for the semiconductor industry, especially for use in lithography, explains, “Due to the specific characteristics of the ePTFE-insulation, our cables do not emit gases that condense and contaminate the sensitive measuring instruments in an ultra-high vacuum environment. They are also able to reduce the acoustic transmission of seismic noise that can hinder the detection of gravitational waves.”

Congratulations to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne who accepted the prize in Stockholm Sweden on December 10.

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