The first detection of gravitational waves from a binary black hole inspiral by LIGO in September 2015 heralded the beginning of a new age in gravitational wave astronomy. The detection of a binary neutron inspiral in August 2017 and has now opened up a new era of multi-messenger astronomy. To increase the sensitivity of future gravitational wave detectors, a change to cryogenic silicon test masses and an increase in laser power may be required. Silicon is a compelling choice as it has high thermal conductivity at cryo- genic temperatures, which reduces temperature gradients generated by optical absorption. Additionally, at 123 K, its thermal expansion coefficient crosses zero. Thus, near this temperature, thermo-elastic distortion of the mirror surface should be drastically reduced, as would the effect of thermo-elastic noise due to thermodynamic temperature fluctuations. However, the adoption of silicon for the optical substrates would necessitate a shift of operating wavelength from 1064 nm to >1.3 μm where silicon is transparent. While potential wavelengths include ca. 1.55 μm and 2.0 μm, the longer wavelengths may be preferred due to lower scattering loss and coating absorption.
High levels of mode matching are required for optimal performance in interferometric gravitational wave detectors that use squeezed light injection. We propose a technique for measuring the magnitude and direction of mode mismatch by inducing a radio frequency waist size and position modulation and demodulating the reflected field using a single element photodiode.
The next-generation gravitational wave detectors aim to enhance our understanding of extreme phenomena in the Universe. The high-frequency sensitivity of these detectors will be maximized by injecting squeezed vacuum states into the detector. However, the performance advantages offered by squeezed state injection can be easily degraded by losses in the system. A significant source of loss is the mode mismatch between optical cavities within the interferometer. To overcome this issue, new actuators are required that can produce a highly spherical wavefront change, with minimal higher order aberrations, whist adding low phase noise to the incident beam.
The performance of mid-infrared fiber lasers operating on the 3.5 μm transition in erbium has improved significantly since the first demonstration that dual wavelength pumping allowed efficient operation. In this contribution, we will discuss the progress of fiber lasers that operate on this transition with an emphasis on advances towards short pulse generation and wavelength agility. Mode-locked operation using saturable absorption is a robust means of achieving ultra-short pulse operation in the near infrared but achieving this in the mid-infrared has been elusive. We will also describe our characterization of the mid-infrared performance of graphene, a material which has been very successfully applied to mode-locked pulse generation in the near infrared.
We describe the development of a number of eyesafe Er:YAG laser systems. Based on the Co Planar Folded Zig Zag geometry, these lasers were primarily developed for hard target ranging at distances greater than 20 km. We also present results where these lasers have been used to explore the profiles of cloud structures over Adelaide, South Australia.
Short pulse operation of fiber lasers operating at wavelengths up 3 micron have been reported in recent years. At longer wavelengths, fiber lasers have only been demonstrated with a continuous operation mode. Short pulse operation in the mid-IR is necessary for utilizing such lasers in laser radars and for medical applications. Our previous numerical work suggested that Q-switching is possible on the 3.5 μm transition in erbium-doped ZBLAN in a similar manner to work demonstrated on the 2.8 μm transition in erbium. In this work we report on initial experimental results of a Q-switched, dualwavelength pumped fiber laser operating on the 3.5 μm transition in erbium-doped ZBLAN glass fibers. Using a hybrid fiber and open resonator configuration utilizing an acousto-optic modulator we demonstrated stable single pulse Q-switching while operating at repetition rates of 20 kHz and up to 120 kHz. The laser achieved a peak power of 8 W with pulse energy of 7 μJ while operating at 25 kHz. Long pulse widths on the order of 1 μs were obtained. The low peak power and long pulses are likely the result of both low gain of the transition and additional losses in the resonator which are currently being investigated. Our latest results will be presented.
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.