Researchers have developed a thin-film technique to increase the sensitivity of gravitational-wave detectors. This breakthrough could improve our understanding of the universe, extend the range of detection of cosmic events, and benefit high-precision devices such as atomic clocks and quantum computers.
A breakthrough by researchers at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has broken new ground in the study of space and gravitational waves.
Breakthrough developments in thin film technology are expected to improve the sensitivity of current and future gravitational wave detectors. Developed by academics at UWS’s Institute for Thin Film Sensors and Imaging (ITFSI), the innovation could advance our understanding of the nature of the universe.
First predicted by Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of spacetime caused by the most energetic events in the universe, such as merging black holes and colliding neutron stars. Detecting and studying these waves provides valuable insight into the fundamental nature of the universe.
Dr. Carlos García Nuez, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) said: “At the Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging Laboratory, we are exploring new technologies and working hard to push the limits of thin film materials.” to deposit them while controlling their properties.
The development of low-thermal-noise high-reflector mirrors opens up a wide range of applications, covering from the detection of gravitational waves from cosmological events to the development of quantum computers.
The technology used in this study, originally developed and patented by Prof. Dess Gibson, Director of the UWS Thin Film Sensor and Imaging Laboratory, enables the fabrication of thin films that achieve low levels of thermal noise. There is a possibility. Reduction of this type of noise in mirror coatings is essential to improve the sensitivity of current gravitational wave detectors, enabling detection of a wider range of cosmological events, and to others such as atomic clocks and quantum computers. It has the potential to be deployed in the enhancement of high-precision devices.
Professor Gibson said: He is excited to announce this cutting-edge thin-film technology for gravitational wave detection. This breakthrough represents an important step forward in our ability to explore the universe and uncover its secrets through the study of gravitational waves. We believe this advance will accelerate scientific progress in this area and open new avenues of discovery.
UWS thin film technology has already undergone extensive testing and validation in collaboration with renowned scientists and research institutions. The results have been greeted with great enthusiasm, raising expectations for future impacts on the field of gravitational wave astronomy. The coating deposition technology is commercialized by UWS spin-out company Albasense Ltd.
The development of low-thermal-noise coatings will not only make the next generation of gravitational-wave detectors more accurate and more sensitive to cosmic events, but also provide new solutions to atomic clocks and quantum mechanics. Both are highly relevant to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7. , 9 and 11.
Reference: Amorphous Dielectric Optical Coatings Deposited by Plasma Ion-Assisted Electron Beam Evaporation for Gravitational Wave Detectors (Carlos Garcia Nuez, Gavin Wallace, Lewis Fleming, Kieran Craig, Shigen Song, Sam Ahmadzadeh, Caspar Clark, Simon Tait, Iain Martin, Stuart Reid), Sheila Rowan and Des Gibson, 23 Feb 2023, Applied Optics.DOI: 10.1364/AO.477186
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