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Cryogenic Silicon Optical Reference Cavities


Yeaton-Massey, David Joseph (2016) Cryogenic Silicon Optical Reference Cavities. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z91V5BWT.


Thermodynamical fluctuations in temperature and position exist in every physical system, and show up as a fundamental noise limit whenever we choose to measure some quantity in a laboratory environment. Thermodynamical fluctuations in the position of the atoms in the dielectric coatings on the mirrors for optical cavities at the forefront of precision metrology (e.g., LIGO, the cavities which probe atomic transitions to define the second) are a current limiting noise source for these experiments, and anything which involves locking a laser to an optical cavity. These thermodynamic noise sources scale physical geometry of experiment, material properties (such as mechanical loss in our dielectric coatings), and temperature. The temperature scaling provides a natural motivation to move to lower temperatures, with a potential huge benefit for redesigning a room temperature experiment which is limited by thermal noise for cryogenic operation.

We design, build, and characterize a pair of linear Fabry-Perot cavities to explore limitations to ultra low noise laser stabilization experiments at cryogenic temperatures. We use silicon as the primary material for the cavity and mirrors, due to a zero crossing in its linear coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) at 123 K, and other desirable material properties. We use silica tantala coatings, which are currently the best for making high finesse low noise cavities at room temperature. The material properties of these coating materials (which set the thermal noise levels) are relatively unknown at cryogenic temperatures, which motivates us to study them at these temperatures. We were not able to measure any thermal noise source with our experiment due to excess noise. In this work we analyze the design and performance of the cavities, and recommend a design shift from mid length cavities to short cavities in order to facilitate a direct measurement of cryogenic coating noise.

In addition, we measure the cavities (frequency dependent) photo-thermal response. This can help characterize thermooptic noise in the coatings, which is poorly understood at cryogenic temperatures. We also explore the feasibility of using the cavity to do macroscopic quantum optomechanics such as ground state cooling.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Fabry-Perot, Thermal Noise, Coating, Optical, Ultra-Stable
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Adhikari, Rana
Group:Institute for Quantum Information and Matter
Thesis Committee:
  • Adhikari, Rana (chair)
  • Schwab, Keith C.
  • Weinstein, Alan Jay
  • Chen, Yanbei
Defense Date:12 November 2015
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Science FoundationHJK.NSFIQIM
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:01042016-150434876
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9357
Deposited By: David Yeaton-Massey
Deposited On:22 Jan 2016 23:39
Last Modified:26 Oct 2021 18:17

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