NASA has selected the Superluminal Ring Laser Gyroscope (SRLG), first proposed by Prof. Selim Shahriar [Physical Review A 75 (5): Art. No. 053807 MAY 2007], as one of five Game Changing Technologies.
For the development of this device, Prof. Shahriar, in collaboration with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, has been awarded a three-year, $1.8 Million grant. A press release from the Marshall Space Flight Center about this selection can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/news/releases/2012/12-111.html.
Using the fast-light effect, this device can improve the sensitivity of a gyroscope by a factor of at least one thousand, and as much as a million. It can also be used for improving the sensitivity of accelerometers by the same factor. Combining three pairs of such gyroscopes and accelerometers, Prof. Shahriar is developing a Superluminal Inertial Measurement Unit (SIMU) for application to precision navigation. A schematic diagram and a miniature model of this SIMU is shown in the picture.
This technology can also be used for precision measurement of vibration, strain and magnetic field, as well as for realizing a table-top gravitational wave detector. A large scale version of the SRLG can be used for precision test of General Relativity by measuring the gravitational frame dragging effect with extreme accuracy.