An Overview of Research into Low Internal Friction Optical Coatings by the Gravitational Wave Detection Community
Journal Article - Open Access
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC WASHINGTON United States
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The direct detection of gravitational waves by ground-based interferometric gravitational wave detectors in recent years has opened a new window of the universe, allowing the astrophysical observations of previously unexplored phenomena, such as the collisions of black holes and neutron stars. However, small thermodynamic fluctuations of the density of the thin films that compose the mirrors used within the gravitational wave detectors, such as the LIGO and Virgo detectors, give rise to noise which limits these instruments at their most sensitive frequencies. This Brownian Thermal Noise can be related to the inherent internal friction of the mirror materials through the fluctuation-dissipation theorem. Therefore, the improved sensitivity of gravitational wave detectors depends, to some extent, upon the development of optical thin films with low internal friction. The past two decades have therefore seen the growth of internal friction experiments undertaken within the gravitational wave detection community. This article attempts to summarize the results of these investigations and to highlight current research directions in order to foster a stronger dialogue with the larger internal friction and mechanical spectroscopy community.
- Optical Detection and Detectors