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We report on the design and testing of an ultrasensitive, electromechanical transducer for use on resonant mass gravitational wave antennae. The transducer is a superconducting, radio frequency resonant bridge circuit operating near 200 MHz. We have minimized several important sources of noise in this transducer system. The Johnson noise of the transducer circuit is reduced through using a superconducting niobium stripline circuit and low‐loss insulating materials. At a temperature of 4.2 K we have achieved unloaded electrical quality factors of 200 000. The bridge circuit is balanced by piezoelectric actuators which control the spacing between the proof mass and capacitive segments of the stripline circuit and we have achieved a residual bridge imbalance of 3×10−7. Finally, low noise cryogenically cooled field‐effect transistors are used for the first amplifier stage, enabling us to obtain an amplifier noise level which is 5400 times the quantum limit. The transducer, which has a 0.080 kg proof mass, was affixed to the end of a prototype, resonant bar, gravitational wave antenna with a mass of approximately 100 kg. The primary purpose of this small antenna was to evaluate the transducer, which is designed to be mounted on a much more massive antenna. Our theoretical analysis and measurements of the detector agree and indicate a burst noise temperature of 1.8 K using the 100 kg bar. This corresponds to a gravity wave burst sensitivity of h=1.1×10−16, in terms of relative strain amplitude. With no other improvements, if the transducer mechanically resonant frequency were tuned to and installed on a 2000 kg antenna, the antenna would reach a noise temperature of 1.3 mK, which is equivalent to a gravitational wave burst sensitivity, h≊5.7×10−19.




© 1995, American Institute of Physics. Original publication is available at

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