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Thermal noise in optical cavities revisited

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Abstract

Thermal noise of optical reference cavities sets a fundamental limit to the frequency instability of ultrastable lasers. Using Levin’s formulation of the fluctuation-dissipation theorem, we correct the analytical estimate for the spacer contribution given by Numata et al. [Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 250602 (2004)]. For detailed analysis, finite- element calculations of the thermal noise focusing on the spacer geometry, support structure, and the usage of different materials have been carried out. We find that the increased dissipation close to the contact area between spacer and mirrors can contribute significantly to the thermal noise. From an estimate of the support structure contribution, we give guidelines for a low-noise mounting of the cavity. For mixed-material cavities, we show that the thermal expansion can be compensated without deteriorating the thermal noise.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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