Active wavefront correction in laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors
Author(s)Lawrence, Ryan Christopher, 1975-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
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As the first generation of laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors near operation, research and development has begun on increasing the instrument's sensitivity while utilizing existing infrastructure. In the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), significant improvements are being planned for installation in 2007 to increase the sensitivity to test mass displacement, hence sensitivity to gravitational wave strain, by improved suspensions and test mass substrates, active seismic isolation, and higher input laser power. Even with the highest quality optics available today, however, finite absorption of laser power within transmissive optics, coupled with the tremendous amount of optical power circulating in various parts of the interferometer, result in critical wavefront deformations which will cripple the performance of the instrument. Discussed is a method of active wavefront correction via direct thermal actuation on optical elements of the interferometer; or, "thermally adaptive optics". A simple nichrome heating element suspended off the face of an affected optic will, through radiative heating, remove the gross axisymmetric part of the original thermal distortion. A scanning heating laser- will then be used to remove any remaining non-axisymmetric wavefront distortion, generated by inhomogeneities in the substrate's absorption, thermal conductivity, etc. This work includes a quantitative analysis of both techniques of thermal compensation, as well as the results of a proof-of-principle experiment which verified the technical feasibility of each technique.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Physics, 2003.Includes bibliographical references (p. 239-243).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Physics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology