“We will increase the frequency of gravitational wave detection from once a week to once a day.”
| Astronomy / Physics

where Pioneering discovery of gravitational waves The American LIGO observatory, in cooperation with its European counterpart, Virgo, recorded dozens of events that generated space-time ripples. In the future, gravitational wave observatories will be improved, which will allow Detecting more waves coming from deeper regions of the universeThus, it will allow us to better understand the universe and know its secrets.

Gravitational waves must compress and compress space by one part in 1021Which means that the entire Earth is compressed or stretched by 1/100000 nanometers, which is roughly the thickness of the nucleus of an atom. As part of the LIGO experiment, two L-shaped interferometers were built every 4 km. There are reflective mirrors at the ends of the tunnels. A laser beam is fired at the mirrors, is reflected and returned to the detectors. If the rays travel a path of different lengths, then interference will occur between the rays. By studying the interference, scientists are able to measure the relative length of both arms to within 1/10000 the width of a proton. It is accurate enough to detect possible changes in the length of the two arms of the interferometer due to the presence of gravitational waves. LIGO consists of two laboratories – in the states of Louisiana and Washington.

Caltech / MIT / LIGO Lab

A very important component that affects the sensitivity of both detectors included in LIGO is the mirror coating. Each of them weighs 40 kilograms, and each detector has 4 such mirrors. The higher the reflection of the mirrors, the higher the sensitivity of the interferometer. However, the same coatings that make mirrors reflect light can lead to increased background noise, which in turn can distort the signal from gravitational waves. And you need to know that LIGO is sensitive to traffic, tectonic movements or the impact of waves on the far coast. Therefore, work on the appropriate mirror coating is still ongoing.

Now, specialists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), who work at LIGO, have announced the development of a new coating made of titanium oxide and germanium oxide. With its help, it will be possible to reduce the background noise from mirrors by 2 times, which will allow to enlarge 8 times the area of ​​u200bu200bthe universe from which LEGO can collect signals. We are looking for the best materials currently available. Our ability to study what happens on the astronomical scale of the universe is limited by phenomena that occur in microscopic space [powłoki luster – red.]says Gabriel Fagente, lead author of Research on the New Paint. Hopefully, thanks to the new coating, we will be able to increase the frequency of detection of gravitational waves from the current once a week to once a day or more.Adds LIGO Laboratory Director at Caltech David Reitze.

Even the smallest disturbance from the environment, such as vibration caused by atomic temperature, can affect the time of reflection of the laser light from the mirrors and disrupt the operation of the interferometer.

The most important part of our work was developing better ways to test different materials. Now we can check their properties in about 8 hours, and this work is fully automated. Previously, it took about a week. As a result, we were able to test different combinations of different materials much faster. Some of them didn’t work at all, but it gave us an insight into the characteristics we should look forVagini explains. In the end, the researchers found that the right mixture of titanium oxide and germanium oxide was best at reducing vibration caused by temperature changes.

The mirrors with the new coating can already be used during LIGO’s fifth research campaign, which will begin in the middle of the decade as part of the Advanced LIGO Plus program. Next summer, the fourth and final research campaign in the LIGO Advanced Program will begin.

How important is the development of the new coating, says Director Reitze. This will change the research conducted as part of Advanced LIGO Plus. This is a great example of how LIGO draws on the latest advances in optics and materials research. This is the biggest advance in optics used at LIGO in 20 years.

The research that has just been done is not only useful in using its results to detect gravitational waves. In the future, their results could be used in the communications and semiconductor industry.

LIGO Mirror Coating Sensitivity

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