A Laue lens for focusing X-ray photons with energies above 60 keV for astrophysical applications is being developed. The lens is based on mosaic crystals of Cu (111) produced at the Institute Laue-Langevin. A feasibility study has allowed to establish lens geometry and crystal properties required. The test of the crystals has provided very satisfactory results. We are now developing a Demonstration Model (DM) of the lens in order to establish the best assembling technique of the crystals. We will discuss the status of the project and its prospects.
We report on the feasibility study of a Laue lens for hard X-rays
(> 60 keV) based on mosaic crystals, for astrophysical applications.
In particular we discuss the scientific motivations, its functioning principle, the procedure followed to select the suitable crystal materials, the criteria adopted to establish crystal dimensions and their distribution on the lens in order to obtain the best lens focusing capabilities, and the criteria for optimizing the lens effective area in a given passband. We also discuss the effects of misalignments of the crystal tiles due to unavoidable mechanical errors in assembling the lens. A software was developed to face all these topics and to evaluate the expected lens performance.
CLAIRE is a balloon-borne experiment dedicated to validating the concept of a diffraction gamma-ray lens. This new concept for high energy telescopes is very promising and could significantly increase sensitivity and angular resolution in nuclear astrophysics. CLAIRE's lens consists of 556 Ge-Si crystals, focusing 170 keV gamma-ray photons onto a 3x3 matrix of HPGe detectors, each detector element being only 1.4x1.4x4 cm3. On June 14 2001, CLAIRE was launched by the French Space Agency (CNES)from its balloon base at Gap in the French Alps and was recovered near the Atlantic ocean (500 km to the west) after about 5 hours at float altitude. Pointing accuracy and gondola stabilization allowed us to select 1h12' of "good time intervals" for the data analysis. During this time, 33 diffracted photons have been detected leading to a 3σ detection of the source. Additional measurements made on a ground based 205 meters long test range are also presented. The results of this latter experiment confirm those of the stratospheric flight.
The mission concept MAX is a space borne crystal diffraction telescope, featuring a broad-band Laue lens optimized for the observation of compact sources in two wide energy bands of high astrophysical relevance. For the first time in this domain, gamma-rays will be focused from the large collecting area of a crystal diffraction lens onto a very small detector volume. As a consequence, the background noise is extremely low, making possible unprecedented sensitivities. The primary scientific objective of MAX is the study of type Ia supernovae by measuring intensities, shifts and shapes of their nuclear gamma-ray lines. When finally understood and calibrated, these profoundly radioactive events will be crucial in measuring the size, shape, and age of the Universe. Observing the radioactivities from a substantial sample of supernovae and novae will significantly improve our understanding of explosive nucleosynthesis. Moreover, the sensitive gamma-ray line spectroscopy performed with MAX is expected to clarify the nature of galactic microquasars (e+e- annihilation radiation from the jets), neutrons stars and pulsars, X-ray Binaries, AGN, solar flares and, last but not least, gamma-ray afterglow from gamma-burst counterparts.
We present the design and performance of the gamma-ray lens telescope CLAIRE, which flew on a stratospheric balloon on June 14, 2001. The objective of this project is to validate the concept of a Laue diffraction lens for nuclear astrophysics. Instruments of this type, benefiting from the dramatic improvement of the signal/noise ratio brought about by focusing, will combine unprecedented sensitivities with high angular resolution. CLAIRE's lens consists of Ge-Si mosaic crystals, focusing gamma-ray photons from its 505 cm2 area onto a small solid state detector, with only 7.2 cm3 volume for background noise. The diffracted energy of 170 keV results in a focal length of 279 cm, yet the entire payload weighed under 500 kg. CLAIRE was launched by the French Space Agency (CNES) from its balloon base at Gap in the French Alps (Southeast of France) and was recovered near Bordeaux in the Southwest of France after roughly 5 hours at float altitude. After presenting the principle of a diffraction lens, the CLAIRE 2001 flight is analyzed in terms of pointing accuracy, background noise and diffraction efficiency of the lens.
The characterization in the bulk of crystalline thick materials (thickness: several cm) can be performed up to now by using high energy X-Ray sources (gamma ray diffractometers or high energy beamlines of synchrotron facilities) or with neutron beams. The Institut Laue-Langevin has developed and built in collaboration with the Laboratoire de Spectrométrie Physique, a new instrument using the continuous high energy X-ray spectrum (100 - 400 keV) delivered by a high voltage, fine focus X-ray generator, previously used for industrial radiography. This article describes the principle of this new diffractometer and presents an overview of the main applications in the field of non destructive crystalline characterization, for both physic researches and industrial applications.
We describe the fabrication techniques of novel, compact optical elements for collimating and/or focusing beams of X- rays or thermal neutrons. These optical elements are solid composite arrays consisting of regular stacks of alternating micro-foils, analogous in action to Soller slit collimators, but up to three orders of magnitude smaller. The arrays are made of alternating metals with suitable refractive indices for reflection and/or absorption of the specific radiation. In one implementation, the arrays are made of stacked micro-foils of transmissive elements (Al, Cu) coated and/or electroplated with absorbing elements (Gd, Cd), which are repeatedly rolled or drawn and restacked to achieve the required collimation parameters. We present results of these collimators using both X-rays and neutrons. The performance of the collimating element is limited only by the choice of micro-foil materials and the uniformity of their interfaces.