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Published July 1, 2020 | Published
Journal Article Open

Structure and morphology of low mechanical loss TiO₂-doped Ta₂O₅


The exceptional stability required from high finesse optical cavities and high precision interferometers is fundamentally limited by Brownian motion noise in the interference coatings of the cavity mirrors. In amorphous oxide coatings these thermally driven fluctuations are dominant in the high index layer compared to those in the low index SiO₂ layer in the stack. We present a systematic study of the evolution of the structural and optical properties of ion beam sputtered TiO₂-doped Ta₂O₅ films with annealing temperature. We show that low mechanical loss in TiO₂-doped Ta₂O₅ with a Ti cation ratio = 0.27 is associated with a material that consists of a homogeneous titanium-tantalum-oxygen mixture containing a low density of nanometer sized Ar-filled voids. When the Ti cation ratio is 0.53, phase separation occurs leading to increased mechanical loss. These results suggest that amorphous mixed oxides with low mechanical loss could be identified by considering the thermodynamics of ternary phase formation.

Additional Information

© 2020 Optical Society of America under the terms of the OSA Open Access Publishing Agreement. Received 16 Apr 2020; revised 11 Jun 2020; accepted 11 Jun 2020; published 26 Jun 2020. Funding: National Science Foundation Moore Foundation Center for Coatings Research (1710957). The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023