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  1. Amorphous tantala (Ta2O5) thin films were deposited by reactive ion beam sputtering with simultaneous low energy assistAr+orAr+/O2+bombardment. Under the conditions of the experiment, the as-deposited thin films are amorphous and stoichiometric. The refractive index and optical band gap of thin films remain unchanged by ion bombardment. Around 20% improvement in room temperature mechanical loss and 60% decrease in absorption loss are found in samples bombarded with 100-eVAr+. A detrimental influence from low energyO2+bombardment on absorption loss and mechanical loss is observed. Low energyAr+bombardment removes excess oxygen point defects, whileO2+bombardment introduces defects into the tantala films.