Student NameKaden Loring
Faculty Mentor NamePaul Fulda
CollegeLiberal Arts and Sciences
Research InterestsSpace Science, Astronautical Engineering, Applied Physics, Aerothermodynamics, and Materials Science
Academic AwardsNOAA Hollings Scholar, SROP Scholar, Dean’s List, Phi Kappa Phi and Academic First-Team Sun Athletic Conference (Track & Field/Cross Country)
OrganizationsSociety of Physics Student and Phi Kappa Phi
Hobbies and InterestsEndurance competitions, enjoying the great outdoors, fishing, and all things space-related.

Research Project

Building High-Finesse Optical Cavities for the Picometer Stability Testing of Novel Space Telescope Materials

LISA, a proposed ESA/NASA mission to study gravitational waves (GW) with a satellite-based laser interferometer, could open a new realm of GW detection and multi-messenger astronomy. Free from many of the limitations of terrestrial detectors, LISA will be able to observe the universe in a lower frequency band, which is thought to coincide with events of significantly greater rate of detection. Such data could ‘shed light’ on many otherwise ‘dark’ phenomena, for instance, a view of the infant universe, formation of the first seed black holes, and the nature of gravity in the strong-field regime.

Long before LISA launches, several design obstacles must be overcome. In my research, I seek a solution to one such challenge, the limitation of LISA’s sensitivity due to thermally-induced variations in optical systems. This includes contraction/expansion of optical pathways which introduces system noise. LISA requires structures made of near zero coefficient-of-thermal-expansion (CTE) materials. Allvar, a negative CTE alloy, is a promising candidate for portions of the interferometer. When joined with the appropriate material, a zero CTE structure may result. Some upcoming objectives include constructing an Allvar-based optical cavity, tests of thermal stability in vacuum, and the design of a large demonstration assembly for NASA.