Gravitational Wave Detection and the Surprising Sensitivity Limits Driven by Amorphous Materials.

Matthew Abernathy
Naval Research Laboratory

Wed, March 20, 2019 - 4:00 PM
Karl Herzfeld Auditorium of Hannan Hall - Rm 108

matthew_abernathy_nrl_smc.jpgWith the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015, the world was thrust into a new era of astronomical observation. The LIGO Science Collaboration's latest source catalogue now lists eleven confident detections over the course of two observing runs, including ten binary black hole collisions and one neutron star collision. These observations are already changing the ways we understand the universe, and it is clear that the future will only bring new discoveries.

As new detectors are set to come online in the near future and upgrades to existing detectors are being developed and approved, it is interesting to consider the fundamental limits to detector designs. On surprising limit comes from the unusual qualities of the amorphous optical films used in making the interferometric mirrors at the heart of the detectors. This talk will cover the some highlights of the gravitational wave detections, the basics of gravitational wave detector design, and some of the challenges and promises involved in improving detector sensitivity using solid state physics and material science.

Refreshments served at 3:45 PM

If you have any questions about the Colloquium Series  or would like to make a donation please contact Adrienne Black, or (202) 319-5315.