Gravitational wave detectors are in many ways the most sensitive instruments ever built and have opened a new window to the universe. The steadily growing number of discoveries helps us develop a better understanding of our cosmic setting and probe for exciting new fundamental physics.
Gravitational wave detectors have reached the thermal noise limit of optical coating technology: thermodynamic effects within the mirror coatings drown potential signals. This has sparked a broad search for novel coating materials and mitigating technologies. The use of cryogenically cooled silicon mirrors and 2µm wavelength lasers is a very promising avenue towards substantial sensitivity improvements.
Your goal in this project is to aid in the design of an experiment that measures the decay of mechanical oscillator excitations (e.g. wafers or cantilevers) to investigate novel candidate coatings on in-house prepared samples. The plan is to track as many oscillator modes as possible at the same time with specially tailored data processing techniques.
The Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics offers a collaborative, diverse, and supportive research environment across the full breadth of gravitational wave discovery. The Centre is a joint effort of RSAA and RSPhys, and hosts a node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav).
Computational and programming skills (e.g. Python, MATLAB, Finite Element Analysis) are recommended. A working knowledge and laboratory experience with optics and lasers is useful but not required. The project scope can be adjusted according to student level and interest.