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  • Corning Supplies HPFS Glass Material Optics to LIGO
Mar 2001
CORNING, N.Y., March 2 -- Using ten-inch diameter HPFS glass material supplied by Corning Inc. the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) was able to achieve "First Lock" with one of the world's largest interferometers, located in Hanford, Wash. A major milestone in achieving the LIGO goal of studying the nature of gravity and proving Einstein's theory of relativity, "First Lock" marks the first time laser light has resonated throughout a full interferometer. Using a computer-based control system, the pure silica optics from Corning were "locked" into their proper positions inside the interferometer to atomic-scale precision.
    The LIGO goal to study the nature of gravity with interferometers means that scientists are that much closer to proving the existence of black holes, gravitational waves, and the theory that gravitational waves were produced at the moment when space and time came into being in the Big Bang creation of the universe.
    Corning also supplied LIGO with ten-inch diameter HPFS glass material lenses for use in a second interferometer in Louisiana. The vacuum tubes that surround each of the two LIGO interferometers are four feet in diameter and are arranged in an L-shape with 2.5-mile arms. The optics provided by Corning are suspended at each of the corners. Precision laser beams in the interferometers will reflect off the Corning optics and allow scientists to detect and measure gravitational waves.
    "LIGO needed optics of the highest quality in order to ensure the transmissiveness and uniformity that is necessary for the interferometers to successfully detect and measure a gravitational wave," said Larry Sutton, North American sales manager of Corning Semiconductor Materials. "The properties of HPFS material result in a very pure piece of glass. Purity is the most important quality for any optic being placed in an interferometer."

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