Development of optical techniques for space-borne laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors

McNamara, Paul William (1998) Development of optical techniques for space-borne laser interferometric gravitational wave detectors. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (62MB) | Preview
Printed Thesis Information:


This thesis deals with aspects of gravitational wave detection relating directly
to the proposed LISA mission.
The thesis begins with a review of gravitational wave astrophysics, starting with
a brief description of the prediction and nature of gravitational radiation as a consequence
of General Relativity. A short description of possible astrophysical sources
is given along with current estimates of signal sources and strengths.
The history of gravitational wave detectors is then briefly outlined, from the
early 1960s and the first resonant bar, through to the modern long baseline laser
interferometers currently under construction.
Discussion then turns to the joint ESA/NASA space-borne interferometer, LISA.
LISA involves picometre precision laser interferometry between spacecraft separated
by millions of kilometres. Among the considerable technical challenges involved are
the need for laser and clock frequency stabilisation schemes, active phase-locked
laser transponders and precision telescope design.
After an overview of the mission concept, the thesis deals with the issue of
gravitational wave signal extraction from the various interferometric data streams
produced in the six LISA spacecraft. A scheme for obtaining the necessary transfer
of clock stability around the set of spacecraft is presented.
LISA is planned to use diode-pumped solid state lasers. Experiments carried out
to characterise the frequency noise of such a laser over the timescales of interest to
the LISA mission are then described. Active frequency stabilisation to a triangular
Fabry-Perot reference cavity is undertaken, with independent measurements of
residual frequency noise obtained from a second analyser cavity.
In LISA, the divergence of the laser beams as they propagate along the long arms
of the interferometer means that only a very small amount of light is received by any
spacecraft. The phase locking system has to function with this low received intensity
and should, ideally, produce a transponded beam with relative phase fluctuations
determined by the photon shot noise of the weak received light.
A test and demonstration of the phase-locked laser transponder scheme for LISA
is then presented. The frequency stabilised laser is used as the master oscillator, and
a second identical laser is used as the slave. Results are obtained both from within
the stabilisation system and also from out-of-Ioop measurements using an independent
optical path. At relative power levels approaching those in LISA, performance
close to the shot noise limit was demonstrated over part of the frequency spectrum
of interest. Some excess noise was, however, found at milliHertz frequencies, most
probably due to thermal effects.
The thesis then continues with an investigation of far-field wavefront aberrations
caused by errors in the transmitting telescopes originally planned for LISA. Any
phase variation across the near field wavefront (defined as the wavefront on the primary
mirror), caused, for example, by a mis-alignment of the telescope mirrors, will
produce phase variation in the far-field wavefront. Coupled with pointing fluctuations
of the incoming light, these wavefront distortions can cause excess displacement
noise in the interferometer readout. The starting point of the investigation was to redesign
the LISA telescope in order to remove both spherical and coma aberrations.
Using Gaussian ray tracing techniques, the effect of near field aberrations on the far
field phase was explored. A revised Ritchey-Chretien telescope design is described
and numerical simulations presented.
Finally the thesis concludes with a summary of the work carried out, setting the
results in the context of the development of the LISA mission.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Supervisor's Name: Ward, Dr Harry
Date of Award: 1998
Depositing User: Adam Swann
Unique ID: glathesis:1998-8477
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2017 09:56
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2017 09:56

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year