QUBIC is a cosmology experiment which aims to measure the B-mode polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background. The Cosmic Microwave Background is the relic radiation left over from the decoupling of photons from matter that took place during the early Universe, 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Its discovery in 1964 as well as the discovery of its very small temperature anisotropies in 1992 - both celebrated by Nobel prizes - are among the major scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century. Studies of these anisotropies have lead us to a deeper understanding of the history of our Universe.
Accurately measuring the Cosmic Microwave Background polarization is the next exciting frontier. The linear part of the polarization can be mathematically decomposed into two components, the so-called E and B-mode. The detection of B-mode would offer us an invaluable insight in to what happened immediately after the Big Bang; it will, for instance, allow us to test the inflation theories which state that an extremely rapid exponential expansion occurred during the first 10−33 seconds of the Universe.
The weakness of the B-mode signal, however, requires even more complex and sensitive experiments than the ones built so far to be developed in order to detect it. To meet this challenge, the QUBIC collaboration has developed the innovative technological concept of bolometric interferometry, which seeks to bring together the sensitivity of bolometric detectors with the systematic effects control allowed by interferometry.
QUBIC is an international collaboration involving several universities and laboratories in France, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S.A. The project received notable funding and support from the French National Research Agency (ANR). A demonstrator including the cryostat of the first module is planned to be integrated in 2017. The first module will be installed at the Alto Chorillo (Argentina) close to the LLAMA site. Another module is planned to be installed at the Franco-Italian Dome C Antarctic station (Concordia).