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Published December 24, 2020 | public
Journal Article Open

Structural Evolution that Affects the Room-Temperature Internal Friction of Binary Oxide Nanolaminates: Implications for Ultrastable Optical Cavities


Internal friction in oxide thin films imposes a critical limitation to the sensitivity and stability of the ultrahigh finesse optical cavities for gravitational wave detectors. Strategies like doping or creating nanolaminates (NL) are sought to introduce structural modifications that reduce internal friction. This work describes an investigation of the morphological changes SiO₂/Ta₂O₅ and TiO₂/Ta₂O₅ nanolaminates undergo with annealing and their impact on room-temperature internal friction. It is demonstrated that thermal treatment results in a reduction of internal friction in both nanolaminates but through different pathways. In the SiO₂/Ta₂O₅ nanolaminate, the layers of which remain intact after annealing, the total reduction in internal friction follows the reduction in the composing SiO₂ and Ta₂O₅ layers. In contrast, interdiffusion initiated by annealing at the interface in the TiO₂/Ta₂O₅ nanolaminate leads to the formation of a mixed phase. It is the interfacial reaction upon annealing that dictates the more significant reduction in internal friction to ∼2.6 × 10⁻⁴, a value lower than any other Ta₂O₅ mixture coating with similar cation concentration.

Additional Information

© 2020 American Chemical Society. Received: October 19, 2020; Accepted: November 30, 2020; Published: December 8, 2020. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation LIGO program through Grant Nos. 1710957 and 1708010. We also acknowledge the support of the LSC Center for Coatings Research, jointly funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. A.M., R.B., and M.M.F. are grateful for the support through NSF awards PHY-1707866, PHY-1708175, and GBMF Grant No. 6793. Partial support from Grant ONR No. N00014-17-1-2536 is acknowledged. We thank Riccardo DeSalvo, Innocenzo Pinto, and Manel Molina Ruiz for the useful discussions. The authors declare no competing financial interest.

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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023