Internal friction of fused silica and gravitational-wave detection

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Peter R. Saulson


Silica glass devices, Anelastic aftereffect, Internal friction, Fused silica, Gravitational wave

Subject Categories

Astrophysics and Astronomy | Condensed Matter Physics | Physics


The research presented in this thesis studies the internal friction of fused silica in the context of its use in interferometric gravitational-wave detectors. There are three major aspects to this dissertation: (1) A thorough review of literature on glass science relevant to the engineering of low internal friction silica glass devices; it is clear that high purity, synthetic fused silica is necessary for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) goals. (2) New results on measurements of internal friction in fused silica using both resonant vibration and anelastic aftereffect techniques; the evidence suggests the best loss factor achievable with fused silica at room temperature is approximately [straight phi] ∼ 3 × 10 -8 . (3) A study of the development, use, and outlook for the Syracuse anelastic aftereffect apparatus. It is currently limited by systematic errors at the level of [straight phi] ∼ 5 × 10 -7 . Were these systematic errors to be eliminated, random errors presently would limit experimental sensitivity at the 10 -8 level.


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