The interplay of the major physical forces gravitation, electromagnetism and the nuclear forces manifest themselves dominantly in the evolution of the universe. The Casimir theme “Universe Physics” involves advanced detectors aimed at signals from the universe surrounding us and theoretical work to describe this universe - in a strong collaboration between astronomers, astrophysicists and instrument-developers.
Astronomy: Delft researchers contribute nanoscale solid-state electronic devices for the detection of faint submillimeter signals revealing the evolution of the earliest galaxies. The state-of-art detectors developed in Delft are currently being used in the James Clerk Maxwell telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, in the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in Chile (near completion) and in the Herschel Space Telescope, which was launched in 2009. The latter instrument will for the first time be able to detect the presence of water elsewhere in the universe.
Supergravity: Astronomical observations also pose us with immense theoretical challenges, for example with respect to the concepts of dark matter and dark energy. Researchers in Leiden focus on the theory of inflation in order to embed it in the microscopic theories of supergravity and string theory. They are eagerly awaiting the new results from the Planck satellite, which was launched together with the Herschel Space telescope.