As part of the thin film development for the Athena X-ray telescope and X-ray optics in general, we investigated the residual stress in iridium and chromium thin films deposited using direct current magnetron sputtering. Residual stresses in thin films can affect the performance and adhesion properties of the fabricated thin film coated X-ray optics. We characterized the thin films using X-ray reflectometry to determine the thin film thicknesses and stylus profilometry to determine the residual film stresses. To counterbalance the compressive stress identified in the iridium thin films, we introduced a chromium thin film layer for which the residual stress is tensile beneath the iridium film. However, chromium thin films are known to exhibit a grainy growth resulting in a high surface roughness which was also observed in this work. In this paper, we evaluated the effect on the iridium surface roughness when introducing a chromium underlayer and discussed the effect on the X-ray optics performance.
The mirror coatings for the Athena X-ray telescope assumes Ir/SiC bilayer thin films as a baseline design. Adding the soft overcoat to the Ir X-ray mirror coatings for the Athena optics is used to improve the low energy performance necessary to achieve the telescope effective area requirements. The Athena mirror is based on silicon pore optics technology, for which the manufacturing process involves a sequence of wet chemical and thermal post-coating treatments of the mirror plates. Establishing compatibility of the thin film material candidates following exposure to these processes is critical for the Athena mission since the specific coating quality will influence the performance of the X-ray telescope. We present an investigation of Ir and Ir/SiC thin films exposed to post-coating treatments based on coatings produced at DTU Space. The current status of the chemical procedures is presented with representative coatings from the Athena-dedicated coating facility.
The Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) technology has been established as a new type of X-ray optics enabling future X-ray observatories such as ATHENA. SPO is being developed at cosine together with the European Space Agency (ESA) and academic as well as industrial partners. The SPO modules are lightweight, yet stiff, high-resolution X-ray optics, allowing missions to reach a large effective area of several square meters. These properties of the optics are mainly linked to the mirror plates consisting of mono-crystalline silicon. Silicon is rigid, has a relatively low density, a very good thermal conductivity and excellent surface finish, both in terms of figure and surface roughness. For Athena, a large number of mirror plates is required, around 100,000 for the nominal configuration. With the technology spin-in from the semiconductor industry, mass production processes can be employed to manufacture rectangular shapes SPO mirror plates in high quality, large quantity and at low cost. Within the last years, several aspects of the SPO mirror plate have been reviewed and undergone further developments in terms of effective area, intrinsic behavior of the mirror plates and mass production capability. In view of flight model production, a second source of mirror plates has been added in addition to the first plate supplier. The paper will provide an overview of most recent plate design, metrology and production developments.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is developing the Athena (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) X-ray telescope, an L-class mission in their current Cosmic Vision cycle for long-term planning of space science missions. Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) are a new type of X-ray optics enabling future X-ray observatories such as Athena and are being developed at cosine with ESA as well as academic and industrial partners. These high-performance, modular, lightweight yet stiff, high-resolution X-ray optics shall allow missions to reach an unprecedentedly large effective area of several square meters, operating in the 0.2 to 12 keV band with an angular resolution better than 5 arc seconds. As the development of Athena mission progresses, it is necessary to validate the SPO technology under launch conditions. To this end, ruggedisation and environmental testing studies are being conducted to ensure mechanical stability and optical performance of the optics before, during and after launch. At cosine, a facility with shock, vibration, tensile strength, long time storage and thermal testing equipment has been set up to test SPO mirror module components for compliance with the upcoming Ariane launch vehicle and the mission requirements. In this paper, we report on the progress of our ongoing investigations regarding tests on mechanical and thermal stability of mirror module components such as single SPO stacks complete mirror modules of inner (R = 250 mm), middle (R = 737 mm) and outer (R = 1500 mm) radii.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) uses commercially available monocrystalline double-sided super-polished silicon wafers as a basis to produce mirrors that form lightweight and stiff high-resolution x-ray optics. The technology has been invented by cosine and the European Space Agency (ESA) and developed together with scientific and industrial partners to mass production levels. SPO is an enabling element for large space-based x-ray telescopes such as Athena and ARCUS, operating in the 0.2 to 12 keV band, with angular resolution requirements up to 5 arc seconds. SPO has also shown to be a versatile technology that can be further developed for gamma-ray optics, medical applications and for material research. This paper will summarise the status of the technology and of the mass production capabilities, show latest performance results and discuss the next steps in the development.
Silicon Pore Optic (SPO) is the X-ray mirror technology selected for the Athena X-ray observatory. The optic is modular; in the current design, it is made of about 700 co-aligned mirror modules. SPO is produced as stacks of 35 mirror plates, which are then paired to form X-ray Optics Units (XOUs) following a modified Wolter I geometry. A mirror module is composed of two confocal XOUs bonded in between a pair of brackets allowing interfacing to the mirror structure. Mirror modules are assembled using the XPBF 2.0 beamline of PTB at the synchrotron radiation facility BESSY II, using pencil beam and dedicated jigs. In this paper we present the challenges and solutions related to making confocal mirror modules.
We present the latest progress on the industrial scale coating facility for the Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics (ATHENA) mission. The facility has been successfully commissioned and tested, completing an important milestone in preparation of the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) production capability. We qualified the coating facility by depositing iridium and boron carbide thin films in different configurations under various process conditions including pre-coating in-system plasma cleaning. The thin films were characterized with X-Ray Reectometry (XRR) using laboratory X-ray sources Cu K-α at 8.048 keV and PTB's four-crystal monochromator beamline at the synchrotron radiation facility BESSY II in the energy range from 3.6 keV to 10.0 keV. Additional X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) measurements were performed with Al K-α radiation to analyze the composition of the deposited thin films.
Silicon Pore Optics is the X-ray mirror technology selected for the European Space Agency's Athena X-ray observatory. We describe the X-ray testing and characterization cycle that the optics are subjected to at the PTB's X-ray Pencil/Paraller Beam Facility (XPBF) 1 and 2 beamlines at the synchrotron radiation facility BESSY II. Individual stacks are measured with a pencil beam to determine their optical quality and the orientation of the optical axis. Using metrics based on X-ray and manufacturing metrology, stacks are then paired in primary-secondary Wolter-I-like systems, that are in turn characterized to determine their optical performance. Finally, four stacks, two primaries and two secondaries, are assembled into a mirror module, that is also characterized, with pencil and wide X-ray beams. At each step models, metrology, and software are combined to arrive at the relevant parameters. We describe the methods used, and illustrate how the performance of imaging pairs can be described in terms of stack-level parameters.
Excellent X-ray reflective mirror coatings are key in order to meet the performance requirements of the ATHENA telescope. The baseline coating design of ATHENA was initially formed by Ir/B4C but extensive studies have identified critical issues with the stability of the B4C top layer which shows strong evolution over time and appears incompatible with the industrialization processes required for the production of mirror modules. Motivated by the need for a compatible top layer material to improve the telescope performance at low energies and based on simulated performance, a SiC top layer has been selected as the best substitute to B4C. We report the latest development of Ir/SiC bilayer coatings optimized for ATHENA and the characterization of coating performance and stability.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) has been established as a new type of x-ray optics that enables future x-ray observatories such as Athena. SPO is being developed at cosine with the European Space Agency (ESA) and academic and industrial partners. The optics modules are lightweight, yet stiff, high-resolution x-ray optics, that shall allow missions to reach an unprecedentedly large effective area of several square meters, operating in the 0.2 to 12 keV band with an angular resolution better than 5 arc seconds. In this paper we are going to discuss the latest generation production facilities and we are going to present results of the production of mirror modules for a focal length of 12 m, including x-ray test results.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) has been established as a new type of x-ray optics that enables future x-ray observatories such as Athena. SPO is being developed at cosine with the European Space Agency (ESA) and academic and industrial partners. The optics modules are lightweight, yet stiff, high-resolution x-ray optics, that shall allow missions to reach an unprecedentedly large effective area of several square meters, operating in the 0.2 - 12 keV band with an angular resolution better than 5 arc seconds. In this paper we are going to discuss the latest generation production facilities and we are going to present results of the production of mirror modules for a focal length of 12 m, including x-ray test results.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is studying the ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) X-ray telescope, the second L-class mission in their Cosmic Vision 2015 – 2025 program with a launch spot in 2028. The baseline technology for the X-ray lens is the newly developed high-performance, light-weight and modular Silicon Pore Optics (SPO). As part of the technology preparation, ruggedisation and environmental testing studies are being conducted to ensure mechanical stability and optical performance of the optics during and after launch, respectively. At cosine, a facility with shock, vibration, tensile strength, long time storage and thermal testing equipment has been set up in order to test SPO mirror module (MM) materials for compliance with an Ariane launch vehicle and the mission requirements. In this paper, we report on the progress of our ongoing investigations regarding tests on mechanical and thermal stability of MM components like single SPO stacks with and without multilayer coatings and complete MMs of inner (R = 250 mm), middle (R = 737 mm) and outer (R = 1500 mm) radii.
For more than a decade, cosine has been developing silicon pore optics (SPO), lightweight modular X-ray optics made of stacks of bent and directly bonded silicon mirror plates. This technology, which has been selected by ESA to realize the optics of ATHENA, can also be used to fabricate soft gamma-ray Laue lenses where Bragg diffraction through the bulk silicon is exploited, rather than grazing incidence reflection. Silicon Laue Components (SiLCs) are made of stacks of curved, polished, wedged silicon plates, allowing the concentration of radiation in both radial and azimuthal directions. This greatly increases the focusing properties of a Laue lens since the size of the focal spot is no longer determined by the size of the individual single crystals, but by the accuracy of the applied curvature. After a successful proof of concept in 2013, establishing the huge potential of this technology, a new project has been launched in Spring 2017 at cosine to further develop and test this technique. Here we present the latest advances of the second generation of SiLCs made from even thinner silicon plates stacked by a robot with dedicated tools in a class-100 clean room environment.
Continuing improvement of Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) calls for regular extension and validation of the tools used to model and predict their X-ray performance. In this paper we present an updated geometrical model for the SPO optics and describe how we make use of the surface metrology collected during each of the SPO manufacturing runs. The new geometrical model affords the user a finer degree of control on the mechanical details of the SPO stacks, while a standard interface has been developed to make use of any type of metrology that can return changes in the local surface normal of the reflecting surfaces. Comparisons between the predicted and actual performance of samples optics will be shown and discussed.
While predictions based on the metrology (local slope errors and detailed geometrical details) play an essential role in controlling the development of the manufacturing processes, X-ray characterization remains the ultimate indication of the actual performance of Silicon Pore Optics (SPO). For this reason SPO stacks and mirror modules are routinely characterized at PTB’s X-ray Pencil Beam Facility at BESSY II. Obtaining standard X-ray results quickly, right after the production of X-ray optics is essential to making sure that X-ray results can inform decisions taken in the lab. We describe the data analysis pipeline in operations at cosine, and how it allows us to go from stack production to full X-ray characterization in 24 hours.
Silicon Pore Optics (SPO), developed at cosine with the European Space Agency (ESA) and several academic and industrial partners, provides lightweight, yet stiff, high-resolution x-ray optics. This technology enables ATHENA to reach an unprecedentedly large effective area in the 0.2 - 12 keV band with an angular resolution better than 5''. After developing the technology for 50 m and 20 m focal length, this year has witnessed the first 12 m focal length mirror modules being produced. The technology development is also gaining momentum with three different radii under study: mirror modules for the inner radii (Rmin = 250 mm), outer radii (Rmax = 1500 mm) and middle radii (Rmid = 737 mm) are being developed in parallel.
The Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics, Athena, selected as the European Space Agency's second large-mission, is based on the novel Silicon Pore Optics X-ray mirror technology. DTU Space has been working for several years on the development of multilayer coatings on the Silicon Pore Optics in an effort to optimize the throughput of the Athena optics. A linearly graded Ir/B4C multilayer has been deposited on the mirrors, via the direct current magnetron sputtering technique, at DTU Space. This specific multilayer, has through simulations, been demonstrated to produce the highest reflectivity at 6 keV, which is a goal for the scientific objectives of the mission. A critical aspect of the coating process concerns the use of photolithography techniques upon which we will present the most recent developments in particular related to the cleanliness of the plates. Experiments regarding the lift-off and stacking of the mirrors have been performed and the results obtained will be presented. Furthermore, characterization of the deposited thin-films was performed with X-ray reflectometry at DTU Space and in the laboratory of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt at the synchrotron radiation facility BESSY II.
As part of the ongoing effort to optimize the throughput of the Athena optics we have produced mirrors with a state-of-the-art cleaning process. We report on the studies related to the importance of the photolithographic process. Pre-coating characterization of the mirrors has shown and still shows photoresist remnants on the SiO2- rib bonding zones, which influences the quality of the metallic coating and ultimately the mirror performance. The size of the photoresist remnants is on the order of 10 nm which is about half the thickness of final metallic coating. An improved photoresist process has been developed including cleaning with O2 plasma in order to remove the remaining photoresist remnants prior to coating. Surface roughness results indicate that the SiO2-rib bonding zones are as clean as before the photolithography process is performed.
Ni-based multilayers are a possible solution to extend the upper energy range of hard X-ray focusing telescopes
currently limited at ≈79:4 keV by the Pt-K absorption edge. In this study 10 bilayers multilayers with a
constant bilayer thickness were coated with the DC magnetron sputtering facility at DTU Space, characterized
at 8 keV using X-ray reectometry and fitted using the IMD software. Ni/C multilayers were found to have a
mean interface roughness ≈ 1:5 times lower than Ni/B4C multilayers. Reactive sputtering with ≈ 76% of Ar
and ≈ 24% of N2 reduced the mean interface roughness by a factor of ≈ 1:7. It also increased the coating rate
of C by a factor of ≈ 3:1 and lead to a coating process going ≈ 1:6 times faster. Honeycomb collimation proved
to limit the increase in mean interface roughness when the bilayer thickness increases at the price of a coating
process going ≈ 1:9 times longer than with separator plates. Finally a Ni/C 150 bilayers depth-graded mutilayer
was coated with reactive sputtering and honeycomb collimation and then characterized from 10 keV to 150 keV.
It showed 10% reectance up to 85 keV.