The Advanced LIGO Interferometer - preparing the beam for detection of gravitational waves
Rodica Martin, Montclair State University
One year ago, the first detection of gravitational waves made by the LIGO Observatories was announced, followed shortly by the announcement of the second detection, opening a new way of exploring the universe and marking the birth of the new field of Gravitational Wave Astronomy. The Advanced LIGO detectors are the most sensitive instruments currently built, equipped with sophisticated, cutting edge technology, that allowed us to observe atto-meter level displacements produced by gravitational waves. One of the most complex and critical subsystems of LIGO is the Input Optics, being responsible with preparing the laser beam for interferometry at the level of 1/10,000 of the diameter of a proton. Additionally, the performance must be maintained for laser powers ranging from a few tenths of a Watt to 180 Watts. In this talk, I will give an overview of the LIGO interferometers and will discuss challenges and upgrades that led to the Advanced LIGO detector. I will focus in particular on a few critical aspects of the Input Optics, will discuss new directions and propose projects that will contribute to the development of future gravitational-wave detectors.