The proposed Lynx telescope is an X-ray observatory with Chandra-like angular resolution and about 30 times larger effective area. The technology under development at SAO is based on the deposition of piezoelectric material on the back of glass substrates, used to correct longer wavelength figure errors. This requires a large number (about 8000) of figured segments with sufficient quality to be in the range of correctibility of the actuators. Thermal forming of thin glass offers a convenient approach, being based on intrinsically smooth surfaces (which doesn’t require polishing or machining), available in large quantity and at a low cost from flat display industry. Being a replica technique, this approach is particularly convenient both for development and for the realization of modular/segmented telescopes. In this paper we review the current status and the most recent advances in the thermal forming activities at SAO, and the perspectives for the employment of these substrates for the adjustable X-Ray optics.
The high-quality surface characteristics, both in terms of figure error and of micro-roughness, required on the mirrors of a high angular resolution x-ray telescope are challenging, but in principle well suited with a deterministic and non-contact process like the ion beam figuring. This process has been recently proven to be compatible even with very thin (thickness around 0.4mm) sheet of glasses (like D263 and Eagle). In the last decade, these types of glass have been investigated as substrates for hot slumping, with residual figure errors of hundreds of nanometres. In this view, the mirrors segments fabrication could be envisaged as a simple two phases process: a first replica step based on hot slumping (direct/indirect) followed by an ion beam figuring which can be considered as a post-fabrication correction method. The first ion beam figuring trials, realized on flat samples, showed that the micro-roughness is not damaged but a deeper analysis is necessary to characterize and eventually control/compensate the glass shape variations. In this paper, we present the advancements in the process definition, both on flat and slumped glass samples.
Lynx is a concept under study for prioritization in the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey. Providing orders of magnitude increase in sensitivity over Chandra, Lynx will examine the first black holes and their galaxies, map the large-scale structure and galactic halos, and shed new light on the environments of young stars and their planetary systems. In order to meet the Lynx science goals, the telescope consists of a high-angular resolution optical assembly complemented by an instrument suite that may include a High Definition X-ray Imager, X-ray Microcalorimeter and an X-ray Grating Spectrometer. The telescope is integrated onto the spacecraft to form a comprehensive observatory concept. Progress on the formulation of the Lynx telescope and observatory configuration is reported in this paper.
Arcus, a Medium Explorer (MIDEX) mission, was selected by NASA for a Phase A study in August 2017. The observatory provides high-resolution soft X-ray spectroscopy in the 12-50Å bandpass with unprecedented sensitivity: effective areas of >450 cm2 and spectral resolution >2500. The Arcus key science goals are (1) to measure the effects of structure formation imprinted upon the hot baryons that are predicted to lie in extended halos around galaxies, groups, and clusters, (2) to trace the propagation of outflowing mass, energy, and momentum from the vicinity of the black hole to extragalactic scales as a measure of their feedback and (3) to explore how stars, circumstellar disks and exoplanet atmospheres form and evolve. Arcus relies upon the same 12m focal length grazing-incidence silicon pore X-ray optics (SPO) that ESA has developed for the Athena mission; the focal length is achieved on orbit via an extendable optical bench. The focused X-rays from these optics are diffracted by high-efficiency Critical-Angle Transmission (CAT) gratings, and the results are imaged with flight-proven CCD detectors and electronics. The power and telemetry requirements on the spacecraft are modest. Mission operations are straightforward, as most observations will be long (~100 ksec), uninterrupted, and pre-planned, although there will be capabilities to observe sources such as tidal disruption events or supernovae with a ~3 day turnaround. Following the 2nd year of operation, Arcus will transition to a proposal-driven guest observatory facility.
Thin X-ray optics with high angular resolution (≤ 0.5 arcseconds) over a wide field of view enable the study of a number of astrophysically important topics, and feature prominently in Lynx, a next-generation X-ray observatory concept currently under NASA study. To produce such optics, we propose to use piezoelectrically adjustable, thin mirror segments capable of figure correction after mounting and on-orbit. In the present work, we report on the fabrication and characterization of an adjustable cylindrical slumped glass optic. This optic has realized 100% piezoelectric cell yield and employs lithographically patterned traces and anisotropic conductive film (ACF) connections to address the piezoelectric cells. The response of the piezoelectric cells are found to agree with finite-element analysis models, and simulated corrections to distortions are found to improve 7 – 10 arcsecond mirrors to 1 – 2 arcseconds (HPD, single reflection at 1 keV). Moreover, such a figure change is empirically demonstrated using an adjustable slumped glass optic, and we identify a path for achieving subarcsecond corrections.
Piezoelectric adjustable optics are being developed for high throughput, high resolution, low mass Xray mirror assemblies. These optics require robust piezoelectric thin films and reproducible lithographic patterning on curved glass substrates. This work details the cleaning of Corning Eagle XG glass substrates for thin shell X-ray mirrors by a three stage acid and solvent cleaning procedure before a 0.02 μm Ti adhesion layer and a 0.1 μm Pt bottom electrode layer was deposited using DC magnetron sputtering. Piezoelectric Pb(Zr0.52Ti0.48)0.99Nb0.01O3 thin films with a thickness of 1.5 μm were then deposited by radio frequency magnetron sputtering in three 0.5 µm layers with intermittent annealing steps in a rapid thermal annealing furnace at 650°C for 60 seconds. Defects observed in the piezoelectric thin films were linked to residue remaining on the glass after cleaning. 112 piezoelectric cells and 100 μm wide conductive Pt traces were patterned using bilayer photolithography. The photoresist layers were deposited using spin coating at 2000 and 4000 RPM to achieve uniform 1 μm thick layers, resulting in reproducibly resolved features with limiting resolutions of approximately >25 μm. The resulting mirror pieces achieved a 100% yield, with average relative permittivity of 1270, dielectric loss 0.047, coercive field 30 kV/cm and remanent polarization of 20 μC/cm2 . While the defects observed in the films appeared to have not influence on the electrical properties, additional cleaning steps using DI water were proposed to further reduce their presence.
In this paper we review the progress and current status of thermal forming activities at SAO, highlighting the most relevant technical problems and the way to solve them. These activities are devoted to the realization of mirror substrates for the X-ray surveyor mission concept, an observatory with Chandra-like angular resolution and 30 times more effective area or larger. The technology under development at SAO is based on the deposition of piezoelectric material on the back of the substrates. About 8000 mirror segments, with initial quality of 10 arcseconds or better are required for the telescope.
Arcus will be proposed to the NASA Explorer program as a free-flying satellite mission that will enable high-resolution soft X-ray spectroscopy (8-50) with unprecedented sensitivity – effective areas of >500 sq cm and spectral resolution >2500. The Arcus key science goals are (1) to determine how baryons cycle in and out of galaxies by measuring the effects of structure formation imprinted upon the hot gas that is predicted to lie in extended halos around galaxies, groups, and clusters, (2) to determine how black holes influence their surroundings by tracing the propagation of out-flowing mass, energy and momentum from the vicinity of the black hole out to large scales and (3) to understand how accretion forms and evolves stars and circumstellar disks by observing hot infalling and outflowing gas in these systems. Arcus relies upon grazing-incidence silicon pore X-ray optics with the same 12m focal length (achieved using an extendable optical bench) that will be used for the ESA Athena mission. The focused X-rays from these optics will then be diffracted by high-efficiency off-plane reflection gratings that have already been demonstrated on sub-orbital rocket flights, imaging the results with flight-proven CCD detectors and electronics. The power and telemetry requirements on the spacecraft are modest. The majority of mission operations will not be complex, as most observations will be long (~100 ksec), uninterrupted, and pre-planned, although there will be limited capabilities to observe targets of opportunity, such as tidal disruption events or supernovae with a 3-5 day turnaround. After the end of prime science, we plan to allow guest observations to maximize the science return of Arcus to the community.
Current theories regarding the matter composition of the universe suggest that half of the expected baryonic matter is missing. One region this could be residing in is intergalactic filaments which absorb strongly in the X-ray regime. Present space based technology is limited when it comes to imaging at these wavelengths and so new techniques are required. The Off-Plane Grating Rocket Experiment (OGRE) aims to produce the highest resolution spectrum of the binary star system Capella, a well-known X-ray source, in the soft X-ray range (0.2keV to 2keV). This will be achieved using a specialised payload combining three low technology readiness level components placed on-board a sub-orbital rocket. These three components consist of an array of large format off-plane X-ray diffraction gratings, a Wolter Type 1 mirror made using single crystal silicon, and the use of EM-CCDs to capture soft X-rays. Each of these components have been previously reviewed with OGRE being the first project to utilise them in a space observation mission. This paper focuses on the EM-CCDs (CCD207-40 by e2v) that will be used and their optimisation with a camera purposely designed for OGRE. Electron Multiplying gain curves were produced for the back-illuminated devices at -80C. Further tests which will need to be carried out are discussed and the impact of the OGRE mission on future projects mentioned.
Off-plane reflection gratings require high-fidelity, custom groove profiles to perform with high spectral resolution in a Wolter-I optical system. This places a premium on exploring lithographic techniques in nanofabrication to produce state-of-the-art gratings. The fabrication recipe currently being pursued involves electron-beam lithography (EBL) and reactive ion etching (RIE) to define the groove profile, wet anisotropic etching in silicon to achieve blazed grooves and UV-nanoimprint lithography (UV-NIL) to replicate the final product. A process involving grayscale EBL and thermal reflow known as thermally activated selective topography equilibration (TASTE) is also being investigated as an alternative method to fabricate these gratings. However, a master grating fabricated entirely in soft polymeric resist through the TASTE process requires imprinting procedures other than UV-NIL to explored. A commerically available process called substrate conformal imprint lithography (SCIL) has been identified as a possible solution to this problem. SCIL also has the ability to replicate etched silicon gratings with reduced trapped air defects as compared to UV-NIL, where it is difficult to achieve conformal contact over large areas. As a result, SCIL has the potential to replace UV-NIL in the current grating fabrication recipe.
Arcus is a NASA/MIDEX mission under development in response to the anticipated 2016 call for proposals. It is a freeflying, soft X-ray grating spectrometer with the highest-ever spectral resolution in the 8-51 Å (0.24 – 1.55 keV) energy range. The Arcus bandpass includes the most sensitive tracers of diffuse million-degree gas: spectral lines from O VII and O VIII, H- and He-like lines of C, N, Ne and Mg, and unique density- and temperature-sensitive lines from Si and Fe ions. These capabilities enable an advance in our understanding of the formation and evolution of baryons in the Universe that is unachievable with any other present or planned observatory. The mission will address multiple key questions posed in the Decadal Survey1 and NASA’s 2013 Roadmap2: How do baryons cycle in and out of galaxies? How do black holes and stars influence their surroundings and the cosmic web via feedback? How do stars, circumstellar disks and exoplanet atmospheres form and evolve? Arcus data will answer these questions by leveraging recent developments in off-plane gratings and silicon pore optics to measure X-ray spectra at high resolution from a wide range of sources within and beyond the Milky Way. CCDs with strong Suzaku heritage combined with electronics based on the Swift mission will detect the dispersed X-rays. Arcus will support a broad astrophysical research program, and its superior resolution and sensitivity in soft X-rays will complement the forthcoming Athena calorimeter, which will have comparably high resolution above 2 keV.
Future soft x-ray (10 to 50 Å) spectroscopy missions require higher effective areas and resolutions to perform critical science that cannot be done by instruments on current missions. An x-ray grating spectrometer employing off-plane reflection gratings would be capable of meeting these performance criteria. Off-plane gratings with blazed groove facets operating in the Littrow mounting can be used to achieve excellent throughput into orders achieving high resolutions. We have fabricated two off-plane gratings with blazed groove profiles via a technique that uses commonly available microfabrication processes, is easily scaled for mass production, and yields gratings customized for a given mission architecture. Both fabricated gratings were tested in the Littrow mounting at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) PANTER x-ray test facility to assess their performance. The line spread functions of diffracted orders were measured, and a maximum resolution of 800±20 is reported. In addition, we also observe evidence of a blaze effect from measurements of relative efficiencies of the diffracted orders.
An x-ray spectrograph consisting of aligned, radially ruled off-plane reflection gratings and silicon pore optics (SPO) was tested at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics PANTER x-ray test facility. SPO is a test module for the proposed Arcus mission, which will also feature aligned off-plane reflection gratings. This test is the first time two off-plane gratings were actively aligned to each other and with an SPO to produce an overlapped spectrum. We report the performance of the complete spectrograph utilizing the aligned gratings module and plans for future development.
Off-plane X-ray diffraction gratings with precision groove profiles at the submicron scale will be used in next generation X-ray spectrometers. Such gratings will be used on a current NASA suborbital rocket mission, the Off-plane Grating Rocket Experiment (OGRE), and have application for future grating missions. The fabrication of these gratings does not come without challenges. High performance off-plane gratings must be fabricated with precise radial grating patterns, optically at surfaces, and specific facet angles. Such gratings can be made using a series of common micro-fabrication techniques. The resulting process is highly customizable, making it useful for a variety of different mission architectures. In this paper, we detail the fabrication method used to produce high performance off-plane gratings and report the results of a preliminary qualification test of a grating fabricated in this manner. The grating was tested in the off-plane `Littrow' configuration, for which the grating is most efficient for a given diffraction order, and found to achieve 42% relative efficiency in the blaze order with respect to all diffracted light.
The Off-plane Grating Rocket Experiment (OGRE) is a high resolution soft X-ray spectrometer sub-orbital rocket payload designed as a technology development platform for three low Technology Readiness Level (TRL) components. The incident photons will be focused using a light-weight, high resolution, single-crystal silicon optic. They are then dispersed conically according to wavelength by an array of off-plane gratings before being detected in a focal plane camera comprised of four Electron Multiplying Charge-Coupled Devices (EM-CCDs). While CCDs have been extensively used in space applications; EM-CCDs are seldom used in this environment and even more rarely for X-ray photon counting applications, making them a potential technology risk for larger scale X-ray observatories. This paper will discuss the reasons behind choosing EM-CCDs for the focal plane detector and the developments that have been recently made in the prototype camera electronics and thermal control system.
Off-plane reflection gratings offer the potential for high-resolution, high-throughput X-ray spectroscopy on future missions. Typically, the gratings are placed in the path of a converging beam from an X-ray telescope. In the off-plane reflection grating case, these gratings must be co-aligned such that their diffracted spectra overlap at the focal plane. Misalignments degrade spectral resolution and effective area. In-situ X-ray alignment of a pair of off-plane reflection gratings in the path of a silicon pore optics module has been performed at the MPE PANTER beamline in Germany. However, in-situ X-ray alignment may not be feasible when assembling all of the gratings required for a satellite mission. In that event, optical methods must be developed to achieve spectral alignment. We have developed an alignment approach utilizing a Shack-Hartmann wavefront sensor and diffraction of an ultraviolet laser. We are fabricating the necessary hardware, and will be taking a prototype grating module to an X-ray beamline for performance testing following assembly and alignment.
Future X-ray missions will require gratings with high throughput and high spectral resolution. Blazed off-plane reflection gratings are capable of meeting these demands. A blazed grating profile optimizes grating efficiency, providing higher throughput to one side of zero-order on the arc of diffraction. This paper presents efficiency measurements made in the 0.3 – 1.5 keV energy band at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) BESSY II facility for three holographically-ruled gratings, two of which are blazed. Each blazed grating was tested in both the Littrow configuration and anti-Littrow configuration in order to test the alignment sensitivity of these gratings with regard to throughput. This paper outlines the procedure of the grating experiment performed at BESSY II and discuss the resulting efficiency measurements across various energies. Experimental results are generally consistent with theory and demonstrate that the blaze does increase throughput to one side of zero-order. However, the total efficiency of the non-blazed, sinusoidal grating is greater than that of the blazed gratings, which suggests that the method of manufacturing these blazed profiles fails to produce facets with the desired level of precision. Finally, evidence of a successful blaze implementation from first diffraction results of prototype blazed gratings produce via a new fabrication technique at the University of Iowa are presented.
Off-Plane reflection gratings were previously predicted to have different efficiencies when the incident light is polarized in the transverse-magnetic (TM) versus transverse-electric (TE) orientations with respect to the grating grooves. However, more recent theoretical calculations which rigorously account for finitely conducting, rather than perfectly conducting, grating materials no longer predict significant polarization sensitivity. We present the first empirical results for radially ruled, laminar groove profile gratings in the off-plane mount which demonstrate no difference in TM versus TE efficiency across our entire 300-1500 eV bandpass. These measurements together with the recent theoretical results confirm that grazing incidence off-plane reflection gratings using real, not perfectly conducting, materials are not polarization sensitive.
An X-ray spectrograph consisting of aligned, radially ruled off-plane reflection gratings and silicon pore optics (SPO) was tested at the Max Planck Institute for extraterrestrial Physics PANTER X-ray test facility. The SPO is a test module for the proposed Arcus mission, which will also feature aligned off-plane reflection gratings. This test is the first time two off-plane gratings were actively aligned to each other and with a SPO to produce an overlapped spectrum. We report the performance of the complete spectrograph utilizing the aligned gratings module and plans for future development.
The Off-plane Grating Rocket Experiment (OGRE) is a sub-orbital rocket payload designed to advance the development of several emerging technologies for use on space missions. The payload consists of a high resolution soft X-ray spectrometer based around an optic made from precision cut and ground, single crystal silicon mirrors, a module of off-plane gratings and a camera array based around Electron Multiplying CCD (EM-CCD) technology. This paper gives an overview of OGRE with emphasis on the detector array; specifically this paper will address the reasons that EM-CCDs are the detector of choice and the advantages and disadvantages that this technology offers.
The Off-Plane Grating Rocket Experiment (OGRE) will greatly advance the current capabilities of soft X-ray grating spectroscopy and provide an important technological bridge towards future X-ray observatories. The OGRE sounding rocket will fly an innovative X-ray spectrograph operating at resolving powers of R ~ 2000 and effective areas < 100 cm2 in the 0.2–1.5 keV bandpass. This represents a factor of two improvement in spectral resolution over currently operating instruments. OGRE will observe the astrophysical X-ray calibration source Capella, which has a linedominated spectrum and will showcase the full capabilities of the OGRE spectrograph. We outline the mission design for OGRE and provide detailed overviews of relevant technologies to be integrated into the payload, including slumped glass mirrors, blazed reflection gratings customized for the off-plane mount, and electron-multiplying CCDs (EMCCDs). The OGRE mission will bring these components to a high technology readiness level, paving the way for the use of such a spectrograph on future X-ray observatories or Explorer-class missions.