The new Easy to Use Compact Laser Interferometric Device (nEUCLID) is a polarisation-based homodyne interferometer with substantially unequal arms that is tolerant to target mirror tilt. The design has no active components, uses standard optical components of 25 mm diameter, has a working distance of 706 mm and a reference arm-length of 21 mm. nEUCLID optics have a footprint of 210 x 190 x 180 mm, and has a tolerance to target mirror tilt of ± 0.5 degrees, made possible by a novel new retro-reflector design .
nEUCLID was built to a set of specifications laid down by Airbus Defence and Space, who required a lowmass, low-power device to measure displacement with nanometre accuracy for space applications. At the University of Birmingham we have previously built a smaller, more compact tilt-insensitive homodyne interferometer – the EUCLID [2, 3, 4] – which has a working distance of 6 mm, a working range of ± 3 mm, and a tilt range of ± 1° . We created a new optical design to allow a much larger working distance to be achieved (as discussed in Section II) and used this in a new interferometer – the nEUCLID.
Section II describes the interferometer in detail; how nEUCLID is tilt insensitive, and the optical configuration. Section III states the design specifications from Airbus Defence and Space and the components used in the final design. The output interference pattern from nEUCLID, and how it has been corrected with a meniscus lens, is also discussed. In Section IV we discuss the results demonstrating the tilt immunity range, and the sensitivity of the device. Section V describes several potential applications of nEUCLID, and Section VI draws together our conclusions.
To meet the overall isolation and alignment requirements for the optics in Advanced LIGO, the planned upgrade to LIGO, the US laser interferometric gravitational wave observatory, we are developing three sub-systems: a hydraulic external pre-isolator for low frequency alignment and control, a two-stage active isolation platform designed to give a factor of ~1000 attenuation at 10 Hz, and a multiple pendulum suspension system that provides passive isolation above a few hertz. The hydraulic stage uses laminar-flow quiet hydraulic actuators with millimeter range, and provides isolation and alignment for the optics payload below 10 Hz, including correction for measured Earth tides and the microseism. This stage supports the in-vacuum two-stage active isolation platform, which reduces vibration using force feedback from inertial sensor signals in six degrees of freedom. The platform provides a quiet, controlled structure to mount the suspension system. This latter system has been developed from the triple pendulum suspension used in GEO 600, the German/UK gravitational wave detector. To meet the more stringent noise levels required in Advanced LIGO, the baseline design for the most sensitive optics calls for a quadruple pendulum, whose final stage consists of a 40 kg sapphire mirror suspended on fused silica ribbons to reduce suspension thermal noise.
We discuss a polarisation based homodyne interferometer that demonstrates a promising sensitivity of approximately 3x10-12 m/Hz1/2. This performance figure is limited above 10Hz by the resolution of the current analogue-to-digital converter (ADC). Sensitivity below 10Hz is influenced by environmental factors and / or noise inherent in the laser. We then describe the development of a compact interferometric sensor, undertaken at The University of Birmingham, discussing its application as a zero-stiffness sensor for drag-free satellites and suggest a geometry of electrostatic actuator also with zero-stiffness.