LIGO Document P1600345-v2

Optical scattering measurements and implications on thermal noise in Gravitational Wave Detectors Test-Mass Coatings

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P - Publications
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Photographs of the LIGO Gravitational Wave detector mirrors illuminated by the standing beam were analyzed with an astronomical software tool designed to identify stars within images, which extracted hundreds of thousands of point-like scatterers uniformly distributed across the mirror surface, likely distributed through the depth of the coating layers. The sheer number of the observed scatterers implies a fundamental, thermodynamic origin during deposition or processing. These scatterers are a likely source of the mirror dissipation and thermal noise foreseen by V. Braginsky and Y. Levin, which limits the sensitivity of observatories to Gravitational Waves. This study may point the way towards the production of mirrors with reduced thermal noise and an increased detection range.
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Revision submitted for publication to Physics Letters A, February 2017

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