Fast-Light Inertial Sensors
Fundamental improvements in the precision of inertial sensors are critical for onboard autonomous navigation technologies that can meet the complexities of next generation space missions. A solution to this challenge might involve one of the hottest topics in optical physics to emerge in the last decade: the use of exceptional points or fast light to dramatically increase the sensitivity of optical cavities to changes in optical path length. These effects were directly observed for the first time in experiments at MSFC, which obtained enhancements in sensitivity as large as 360 and led to the first demonstration of the enhancement in a closed-loop device. The boost in sensitivity could enable more rapid and precise inertial measurements, with smaller gyros, translating to greater spacecraft autonomy. I will discuss the challenges and prospects for the improvement of gyroscopes and accelerometers based on these concepts.