X-ray telescopes with very large collecting area, like the proposed International X-ray Observatory (IXO, with around 3 m2 at 1 keV), need to be composed of a large number high quality mirror segments, aiming at achieving an angular resolution better than 5 arcsec HEW (Half-Energy-Width). A possible technology to manufacture the modular elements that will compose the entire optical module, named X-ray Optical Units (XOUs), consists of stacking in Wolter-I configuration several layers of thin foils of borosilicate glass, previously formed by hot slumping. The XOUs are subsequently assembled to form complete multi-shell optics with Wolter-I geometry. The achievable global angular resolution of the optic relies on the required surface shape accuracy of slumped foils, on the smoothness of the mirror surfaces and on the correct integration and co-alignment of the mirror segments. The Brera Astronomical Observatory (INAF-OAB) is leading a study, supported by ESA, concerning the implementation of the IXO telescopes based on thin
slumped glass foils. In addition to the opto-mechanical design, the study foresees the development of a direct hot slumping thin glass foils production technology. Moreover, an innovative assembly concept making use of Wolter-I counter-form moulds and glass reinforcing ribs is under development. The ribs connect pairs of consecutive foils in an XOU stack, playing a structural and a functional role. In fact, as the ribs constrain the foil profile to the correct shape during the bonding, they damp the low-frequency profile errors still present on the foil after slumping. A dedicated semirobotic Integration MAchine (IMA) has been realized to this scope and used to build a few integrated prototypes made of several layers of slumped plates. In this paper we provide an overview of the project, we report the results achieved so
far, including full illumination intra-focus X-ray tests of the last integrated prototype that are compliant with a HEW of around 17’’.