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Exploration of co-sputtered Ta₂O₅–ZrO₂ thin films for gravitational-wave detectors

Abernathy, M. and Amato, A. and Ananyeva, A. and Angelova, S. and Baloukas, B. and Bassiri, R. and Billingsley, G. and Birney, R. and Cagnoli, G. and Canepa, M. and Coulon, M. and Degallaix, J. and Di Michele, A. and Fazio, M. A. and Fejer, M. M. and Forest, D. and Gier, C. and Granata, M. and Gretarsson, A. M. and Gretarsson, E. M. and Gustafson, E. and Hough, E. J. and Irving, M. and Lalande, É. and Lévesque, C. and Lussier, A. W. and Markosyan, A. and Martin, I. W. and Martinu, L. and Maynard, B. and Menoni, C. S. and Michel, C. and Murray, P. G. and Osthelder, C. and Penn, S. and Pinard, L. and Prasai, K. and Reid, S. and Robie, R. and Rowan, S. and Sassolas, B. and Schiettekatte, F. and Shink, R. and Tait, S. and Teillon, J. and Vajente, G. and Ward, M. and Yang, L. (2021) Exploration of co-sputtered Ta₂O₅–ZrO₂ thin films for gravitational-wave detectors. Classical and Quantum Gravity, 38 (19). Art. No. 195021. ISSN 0264-9381. doi:10.1088/1361-6382/ac1b06.

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We report on the development and extensive characterization of co-sputtered tantala–zirconia (Ta₂O₅-ZrO₂) thin films, with the goal to decrease coating Brownian noise in present and future gravitational-wave detectors. We tested a variety of sputtering processes of different energies and deposition rates, and we considered the effect of different values of cation ratio η = Zr/(Zr + Ta) and of post-deposition heat treatment temperature T_a on the optical and mechanical properties of the films. Co-sputtered zirconia proved to be an efficient way to frustrate crystallization in tantala thin films, allowing for a substantial increase of the maximum annealing temperature and hence for a decrease of coating mechanical loss φ_c. The lowest average coating loss was observed for an ion-beam sputtered sample with η = 0.485 ± 0.004 annealed at 800 °C, yielding φ_c = 1.8 x 10⁻⁴ rad. All coating samples showed cracks after annealing. Although in principle our measurements are sensitive to such defects, we found no evidence that our results were affected. The issue could be solved, at least for ion-beam sputtered coatings, by decreasing heating and cooling rates down to 7 °C h⁻¹. While we observed as little optical absorption as in the coatings of current gravitational-wave interferometers (0.5 parts per million), further development will be needed to decrease light scattering and avoid the formation of defects upon annealing.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Abernathy, M.0000-0001-9805-4311
Amato, A.0000-0001-9557-651X
Bassiri, R.0000-0001-8171-6833
Billingsley, G.0000-0002-4141-2744
Canepa, M.0000-0002-5148-1233
Di Michele, A.0000-0002-0357-2608
Fazio, M. A.0000-0002-9057-9663
Granata, M.0000-0003-3275-1186
Gretarsson, A. M.0000-0003-3438-9926
Hough, E. J.0000-0003-3242-3123
Martin, I. W.0000-0001-7300-9151
Maynard, B.0000-0003-4799-1545
Murray, P. G.0000-0002-8218-2404
Penn, S.0000-0003-4956-0853
Rowan, S.0000-0002-0666-9907
Schiettekatte, F.0000-0002-2112-9378
Vajente, G.0000-0002-7656-6882
Alternate Title:Exploration of co-sputtered Ta2O5–ZrO2 thin films for gravitational-wave detectors
Additional Information:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 29 March 2021, revised 29 June 2021; Accepted for publication 5 August 2021; Published 13 September 2021. The research performed at the Laboratoire des Matériaux Avancés was partially supported by the Virgo Coating Research and Development (VCR&D) Collaboration. The work performed at Université de Montréal and École Polytechnique de Montréal was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian foundation for innovation (CFI) and the Fonds de recherche Québec, Nature et technologies (FQRNT) through the Regroupement Québécois sur les matériaux de pointe (RQMP). These authors thank S Roorda, M Chicoine, L Godbout and F Turcot for fruitful discussions and technical support. The work performed at the University of Glasgow was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC, ST/N005422/1 and ST/I001085/1) and the Royal Society (UF100602 and UF150694). The research performed at Hobart and William Smith Colleges was supported by National Science Foundation Grant awards PHY-1307423, PHY-1611821, and PHY-1707863. Data availability statement: The data that support the findings of this study are available upon reasonable request from the authors.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Virgo Coating Research and Development (VCR&D) CollaborationUNSPECIFIED
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
Canada Foundation for InnovationUNSPECIFIED
Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies (FRQNT)UNSPECIFIED
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/N005422/1
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/I001085/1
Royal SocietyUF100602
Royal SocietyUF150694
Issue or Number:19
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20211020-170608705
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:M Abernathy et al 2021 Class. Quantum Grav. 38 195021
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:111554
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:20 Oct 2021 23:18
Last Modified:21 Oct 2021 16:25

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