This paper will describe efforts at developing broadband mirror coatings with high performance that will extend from infrared wavelengths down to the Far-Ultraviolet (FUV) spectral region. These mirror coatings would be realized by passivating the surface of freshly made aluminum coatings with fluorine ions in order to form a thin AlF3 overcoat that will protect the aluminum from oxidation and, hence, realize the high-reflectance of this material down to its intrinsic cut-off wavelength of 90 nm. Improved reflective coatings for optics, particularly in the FUV region (90-120 nm), could yield dramatically more sensitive instruments and permit more instrument design freedom.
The advancement of far-ultraviolet (FUV) coatings is essential to meet the specified throughput requirements of the Large UV/Optical/IR (LUVOIR) Surveyor Observatory which will cover wavelengths down to the 100 nm range. The biggest constraint in the optical thin film coating design is attenuation in the Lyman-Alpha Ultraviolet range of 100-130 nm in which conventionally deposited thin film materials used in this spectral region (e.g., aluminum [Al] protected with Magnesium fluoride [MgF2]) often have high absorption and scatter properties degrading the throughput in an optical system. We investigate the use of optimally deposited aluminum and aluminum tri-fluoride (AlF3) materials for reflecting and solar blind band-pass filter coatings for use in the FUV. Optical characterization of the deposited designs has been performed using UV spectrometry. The optical thin film design and optimal deposition conditions to produce superior reflectance and transmittance using Al and AlF3 are presented.
Large space telescope concepts such as LUVOIR and HabEx aiming for observations from far UV to near IR require advanced coating technologies to enable efficient gathering of light with important spectral signatures including those in far UV region down to 90nm. Typical Aluminum mirrors protected with MgF2 fall short of the requirements below 120nm. New and improved coatings are sought to protect aluminum from oxidizing readily in normal environment causing severe absorption and reduction of reflectance in the deep UV. Choice of materials and the process of applying coatings present challenges. Here we present the progress achieved to date with experimental investigations of coatings at JPL and at GSFC and discuss the path forward to achieve high reflectance in the spectral region from 90 to 300nm without degrading performance in the visible and NIR regions taking into account durability concerns when the mirrors are exposed to normal laboratory environment as well as high humidity conditions. Reflectivity uniformity required on these mirrors is also discussed.
We present a progress report on the development of new broadband mirror coatings that demonstrate ⪆ 80% reflectivities from 1020−5000Å. Four different coating recipes are presented as candidates for future far-ultraviolet (FUV) sensitive broadband observatories. Three samples were first coated with aluminum (Al) and lithium fluoride (LiF) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) using a new high-temperature physical vapor deposition (PVD) process. Two of these samples then had an ultrathin (10−20 Å) protective coat of either magnesium fluoride (MgF2) or aluminum fluoride (AlF3) applied using atomic later deposition (ALD) at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). A fourth sample was coated with Al and a similar high temperature PVD coating of AlF3. Polarized reflectivities into the FUV for each sample were obtained through collaboration with the Synchrotron Ultraviolet Radiation Facility at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. We present a procedure for using these reflectivities as a baseline for calculating the optical constants of each coating recipe. Given these results, we describe plans for improving our measurement methodology and techniques to develop and characterize these coating recipes for future FUV missions.
The University of Colorado ultraviolet sounding rocket program presents the motivation and design capabilities of the new Suborbital Imaging Spectrograph for Transition Region Irradiance from Nearby Exoplanet host stars (SISTINE). SISTINE is a pathfinder for future UV space instrumentation, incorporating advanced broadband refl ective mirror coatings and large format borosilicate microchannel plate detectors that address technology gaps identified by the NASA Cosmic Origins program. The optical design capitalizes on new capabilities enabled by these technologies to demonstrate optical pathlengths in a sounding rocket envelope that would otherwise require a prohibitive effective area penalty in the 1020 - 1150 Å bandpass. This enables SISTINE to achieve high signal-to-noise observations of emission lines from planet-hosting dwarf stars with moderate spectral resolution (R ~ 10,000) and sub-arcsecond angular imaging. In this proceedings, we present the scientific motivation for a moderate resolution imaging spectrograph, the design of SISTINE, and the enabling technologies that make SISTINE, and future advanced FUV-sensitive instrumentation, possible.
NASA Cosmic Origins (COR) Program identified the development of high reflectivity mirror coatings for large astronomical telescopes particularly for the far ultra violet (FUV) part of the spectrum as a key technology requiring significant materials research and process development. In this paper we describe the challenges and accomplishments in producing stable high reflectance aluminum mirror coatings with conventional evaporation and advanced Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) techniques. We present the current status of process development with reflectance of ~ 55 to 80% in the FUV achieved with little or no degradation over a year.
We present the results of a preliminary aging study of new enhanced broadband reflectivity lithium fluoride mirror coatings under development at the thin films laboratory at GSFC. These coatings have demonstrated greater than 80% reflectivity from the Lyman ultraviolet (~1020 Å) to the optical, and have the potential to revolutionize far-ultraviolet instrument design and capabilities. This work is part of a concept study in preparation for the fight qualification of these new coatings in a working astronomical environment. We outline the goals for TRL advancement, and discuss the instrument capabilities enabled by these high reflectivity broadband coatings on potential future space missions. We also present the early design of the first space experiment to utilize these coatings, the proposed University of Colorado sounding rocket payload SISTINE, and show how these new coatings make the science goals of SISTINE attainable on a suborbital platform.
This paper presents and discuss data obtained on a distribution of Al+MgF2 and Al+LiF witness coupons that show substantial gains in reflectance in the far-ultraviolet (FUV) part of the optical spectrum (90−180 nm). These samples, which have dimensions of 2×2 inches, were coated at various locations inside a 2−me diameter coating chamber at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD (USA). These experiments were done to demonstrate a scale−up process for coating up to a 1−m diameter optic, and hence realize the gain in throughput that could be obtained for a telescope system that would employ such mirror coatings. These coatings have been optimized for Lyman-alpha (121.6 nm) or lower wavelengths and they are prepared with the deposition of the MgF2 or LiF layers done at elevated (∼ 250 °C) temperature. These results will be compared to ambient or “cold” depositions. We will also present optical characterization of little-studied rare-earth fluorides, such as GdF3 and LuF3, that exhibit low absorption over a broad wavelength range and could therefore be used as high-index materials to produce dielectric coatings at FUV wavelengths.
Modern advanced optical systems often require challenging high spatial frequency surface error control during their
optical fabrication processes. While the large scale surface figure error can be controlled by directed material removal
processes such as small tool figuring, surface finish (<<1mm scales) is controlled with the polishing process. For large
aspheric optical systems, surface shape irregularities of a few millimeters in scale may cause serious performance
degradation in terms of scattered light background noise and high contrast imaging capability. The conventional surface
micro roughness concept in Root Mean Square (RMS) over a very high spatial frequency range (e.g. RMS of 0.5 by 0.5
mm local surface map with 500 by 500 pixels) is not sufficient to describe or specify these surface characteristics. For
various experimental polishing conditions, we investigate the process control for high frequency surface errors with
periods up to ~2-3mm. The Power Spectral Density of the finished optical surfaces has been measured and analyzed to
relate various computer controlled optical surfacing parameters (e.g. polishing interface materials) with the high spatial
frequency errors on the surface. The experiment-based optimal polishing conditions and processes producing a super
smooth optical surface while controlling surface irregularity at the millimeter range are presented.