The addition of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) to aqueous suspensions of AlOOH, ZrO2, and HfO2 has been found to increase the damage threshold and refractive index of coatings prepared from these suspensions. The increase in damage threshold may be due to the increase in coating strength brought about by the enhanced particle-to-particle bond strength due to the polymer binder. The binder also increases the refractive index by decreasing the porosity. This leads to a reduction in the number of layer pairs required for high reflection in a typical HR coating. A mirror consisting of only ten layer pairs of HfO2-SiO2 with PVA binder in the HfO2 had a reflectivity of over 99% at 1.06 micrometers and a damage threshold of 25 - 28 J/cm2 at 1.06 micrometers with a 10 ns pulse.© (1993) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.