Dutch-German impulse for gravitational wave research

Nikhef and Albert Einstein Institute sign cooperation agreement

25 April 2016

Today, NWO institute Nikhef (the Dutch National Institute for Subatomic Physics) and the German Albert-Einstein Institute have signed a declaration in the presence of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to strengthen scientific and technological cooperation in the area of gravitational wave research. They intend to develop a joint vision on new (third generation) detectors for gravitational waves. The signing took place during the Hannover Messe 2016, the world's largest technology trade fair.

Ondertekening van de verklaring  in aanwezigheid van minster-president Rutte

On 11 February 2016, scientists publically announced that they had directly detected gravitational waves for the first time. Dutch scientists were closely involved in this groundbreaking discovery and made vital contributions to validating the measurement, to the data analysis for these gravitational waves, and they collaborated on the astrophysical interpretation. Since then, this area of research has been undergoing rapid development. Whilst gravitational wave research continues unabated using the current infrastructure, there is an urgency to start creating a vision for a new generation of detectors.

One of the most promising projects is the Einstein Telescope’ (ET), a detector which can make much more accurate measurements than the instruments currently in use. The purpose of the cooperation agreement signed by Nikhef and the German Albert Einstein Institute (AEI) today is to arrive at a joint vision on gravitational wave research and on the development of new detectors. Joint research into a possible location for a future detector in Europe will form a key part of the cooperation. One of the ways this will take place is in the form of feasibility studies, looking at sites in the Dutch-German border area in Zuid-Limburg and North Rhine Westphalia.

Nikhef director Stan Bentvelsen is enthusiastic about the collaboration: 'Nikhef and AEI are both very active players in the area of gravitational wave research, with broad expertise in instrumentation, data analysis and physics interpretation. Joining the forces of these Dutch and German institutes will clearly strengthen our mutual position in this area of research.'

Programme leader Jo van den Brand is pleased with the international support: 'The worldwide community of scientists in the area of gravitational wave research supports this initiative to develop a joint vision on a new generation detector. Furthermore, European colleagues are involved through the Astroparticle Physics European Consortium (APPEC). It is fantastic that we can go ahead so quickly after the first detection.'

About Nikhef

The National institute for subatomic physics (Nikhef) performs research in the area of particle and astro-particle physics. Nikhef is a partnership between the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) and five universities: Radboud University, University of Amsterdam, University of Groningen, Utrecht University and VU University Amsterdam. FOM is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

More information

For more information, please contact:

Science Communications Department Nikhef
Vanessa Mexner
e: v.mexner@nikhef.nl
t: +31 20 5925075

Stan Bentvelsen
Director Nikhef
e: s.bentvelsen@nikhef.nl
t: +31 20 5925001

Jo van den Brand
Programme leader Nikhef, professor at VU University Amsterdam
e: j.van.den.brand@nikhef.nl
t: +31 20 5922015