Timothy (Tim) Kovachy concentrated in physics and
mathematics at Harvard College, graduating in 2009. As a Hertz Fellow, He obtained his PhD in physics at Stanford
University in 2016 and is currently a postdoc at Stanford.
Tim’s research interests center on using
techniques from atomic physics to build devices to perform precision
measurements. He has built a 10 meter
tall atom interferometer in Professor Mark Kasevich’s lab at Stanford that has
an unprecedented sensitivity to gravitational effects. Moreover, Tim has proposed and experimentally realized atom
optics techniques to improve the sensitivity of atom interferometers by
multiple orders of magnitude in a wide range of applications.These methods pave the way for a new generation
of fundamental physics tests, including tests of quantum mechanics at
macroscopic scales and of general relativity. In recent work, Tim has applied these ultra-sensitive atom
interferometers to testing Einstein’s equivalence principle and to making
precision measurements of gravity gradients. In a complementary direction, Tim has experimentally demonstrated a way
to cool atoms in free space to effective temperatures of 50 picokelvin. The ability to prepare atoms in this ultra-low
energy regime is critical for next-generation precision atomic sensors.
Tim is interested in applying his work on
long-baseline atom interferometry and advanced atom optics and cooling
techniques to gravitational wave astronomy. He has performed a detailed study of the relevant design criteria for an
atomic gravitational wave interferometric sensor in low Earth orbit,
culminating in a mission proposal in collaboration with NASA. In addition to detecting gravitational waves,
such an instrument could be valuable for geophysical studies.
In his free time, Tim enjoys
traveling and SCUBA diving.