Gravitational waves are distortions in space time that carry energy and information across the universe. Predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916, they were first observed by the two detectors of the LIGO observatory in 2015. Since then, these detectors have measured ten gravitational wave signals from binary black hole mergers and one from a system of binary neutron stars spiralling towards each other. However thermal fluctuations in the detector mirrors can compromise the sensitivity of these detectors.
Scientists at the University of Glasgow and collaborators have now developed a multimaterial coating design for the mirrors used in gravitational wave detectors. They suggest their coating will minimize thermal fluctuations at cryogenic temperatures for the next generation of detectors and will contribute to improving their sensitivity at 10 Hz by a factor of 100.
The Einstein Telescope is a proposed third-generation gravitational wave observatory with the goal of a factor of at least 10 improvement in sensitivity of existing detectors such as Advanced LIGO. At low frequencies, where current detectors are quite insensitive, a factor of 100 improvement is planned, increasing the frequency band observed for gravitational waves. The hope is that this improved sensitivity will increase the observable ...