LIGO Document P1400234-v3

In-situ Characterization of the Thermal State of Resonant Optical Interferometers via Tracking of their Higher Order Mode Resonances

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Thermal lensing in resonant optical interferometers such as those used for gravitational wave detection is a concern due to the negative impact on control signals and instrument sensitivity. In this paper we describe a method for monitoring the thermal state of such interferometers by probing the higher-order spatial mode resonances of the cavities within them. We demonstrate the use of this technique to measure changes in the Advanced LIGO input mode cleaner cavity geometry as a function of input power, and subsequently infer the optical absorption at the mirror surfaces at the level of 1 ppm per mirror. We also demonstrate the generation of a useful error signal for thermal state of the Advanced LIGO power recycling cavity by continuously tracking the first order spatial mode resonance frequency. Such an error signal could be used as an input to thermal compensation systems to maintain the interferometer cavity geometries in the presence of transients in circulating light power levels, thereby maintaining optimal sensitivity and maximizing the duty-cycle of the detectors.
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