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  1. The sensitivity of gravitational-wave detectors is limited by the mechanical loss associated with the amorphous coatings of the detectors’ mirrors. Amorphous silicon has higher refraction index and lower mechanical loss than current high-index coatings, but its optical absorption at the wavelength used for the detectors is at present large. The addition of hydrogen to the amorphous silicon network reduces both optical absorption and mechanical loss for films prepared under a range of conditions at all measured wavelengths and temperatures, with a particularly large effect on films grown at room temperature. The uptake of hydrogen is greatest in the films grown at room temperature, but still below 1.5 at.% H, which show an ultralow optical absorption (below 10 ppm) measured at 2000 nm for 500-nm-thick films. These results show that hydrogenation is a promising strategy to reduce both optical absorption and mechanical loss in amorphous silicon, and may enable fabrication of mirror coatings for gravitational-wave detectors with improved sensitivity. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract We report on the development and extensive characterization of co-sputtered tantala–zirconia (Ta 2 O 5 -ZrO 2 ) thin films, with the goal to decrease coating Brownian noise in present and future gravitational-wave detectors. We tested a variety of sputtering processes of different energies and deposition rates, and we considered the effect of different values of cation ratio η = Zr/(Zr + Ta) and of post-deposition heat treatment temperature T a on the optical and mechanical properties of the films. Co-sputtered zirconia proved to be an efficient way to frustrate crystallization in tantala thin films, allowing for a substantial increase of the maximum annealing temperature and hence for a decrease of coating mechanical loss φ c . The lowest average coating loss was observed for an ion-beam sputtered sample with η = 0.485 ± 0.004 annealed at 800 °C, yielding φ ¯ c = 1.8 × 1 0 − 4 rad. All coating samples showed cracks after annealing. Although in principle our measurements are sensitive to such defects, we found no evidence that our results were affected. The issue could be solved, at least for ion-beam sputtered coatings, by decreasing heating and cooling rates down to 7 °C h −1 . While we observed as little optical absorption as in the coatings of current gravitational-wave interferometers (0.5 parts per million), further development will be needed to decrease light scattering and avoid the formation of defects upon annealing. 
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  3. Abstract

    We present Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (Fermi-GBM) and Swift Burst Alert Telescope (Swift-BAT) searches for gamma-ray/X-ray counterparts to gravitational-wave (GW) candidate events identified during the third observing run of the Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo detectors. Using Fermi-GBM onboard triggers and subthreshold gamma-ray burst (GRB) candidates found in the Fermi-GBM ground analyses, the Targeted Search and the Untargeted Search, we investigate whether there are any coincident GRBs associated with the GWs. We also search the Swift-BAT rate data around the GW times to determine whether a GRB counterpart is present. No counterparts are found. Using both the Fermi-GBM Targeted Search and the Swift-BAT search, we calculate flux upper limits and present joint upper limits on the gamma-ray luminosity of each GW. Given these limits, we constrain theoretical models for the emission of gamma rays from binary black hole mergers.

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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025