The design of current X-ray telescope systems needs to reach a compromise between the resolution and sensitivity. A
new area of interest of adaptive optics is the development of actively controlled thin X-ray mirrors, where aberrations
would be corrected. Their assembly on an X-ray telescope would provide an instrument with both high resolution and
The Smart X-Ray Optics (SXO) project comprises a U.K.-based consortium developing prototypes for the next
generation of X-ray telescopes. The overall aim is to produce X-ray mirrors using thin, below 1mm, structures,
comprising Ni mirror shells with bonded piezoelectric unimorph actuators, and with a target resolution of ~0.1 arcs. Such
an optic would enable the design of an X-ray telescope with both a greater resolution and collective area than the best
currently available by Chandra (0.5arcs) and XMM Newton (1650cm2) respectively.
Lead zirconate titanate, PZT-based piezoelectric actuators are being developed in this programme to fit precisely the
curved Ni mirror shell prototypes (100×300×0.4mm, radius of curvature 167mm). Viscous plastic processing has been
chosen for the fabrication of net-shaped piezoelectric unimorph actuators 75×32×0.18mm, with radius of curvature
conforming to those of the X-ray optic. Laser machining has been used for precisely controlling the actuator shape and
for the definition of the multi-segment electrodes. Accurate control of the thickness, surface finish and curvature are the
key factors to delivering satisfactory actuators. Results are presented concerning the fabrication and characterisation of
the piezoelectric actuators, and the integration procedure on the nickel optic.