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The thermal noise associated with mechanical dissipation is a ubiquitous limitation to the sensitivity of precision experiments ranging from frequency stabilization to gravitational wave interferometry. We report on the thermal noise limits to the performance of 1 gm mirror oscillators that are part of a cavity optomechanics experiment to observe quantum radiation pressure noise. Thermal noise limits the observed cavity displacement spectrum from 80 Hz to 5 kHz. We present a calculation of the thermal noise, based on finite element analysis of the dissipation due to structural damping, and find it to be in excellent agreement with the experimental result. We conclude with the predicted thermal noise for an improved oscillator design, which should be capable of revealing the noise that arises from quantum backaction in this system. © IOP Publishing and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft.

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New Journal of Physics