We report progress toward developing a scanning laser reflection (LR) tool for alignment and period measurement of critical-angle transmission (CAT) gratings. It operates on a similar measurement principle as a tool built in 1994 which characterized period variations of grating facets for the Chandra X-ray Observatory. A specularly reflected beam and a first-order diffracted beam were used to record local period variations, surface slope variations, and grating line orientation. In this work, a normal-incidence beam was added to measure slope variations (instead of the angled-incidence beam). Since normal incidence reflection is not coupled with surface height change, it enables measurement of slope variations more accurately and, along with the angled-incidence beam, helps to reconstruct the surface figure (or tilt) map. The measurement capability of in-grating period variations was demonstrated by measuring test reflection grating (RG) samples that show only intrinsic period variations of the interference lithography process. Experimental demonstration for angular alignment of CAT gratings is also presented along with a custom-designed grating alignment assembly (GAA) testbed. All three angles were aligned to satisfy requirements for the proposed Arcus mission. The final measurement of roll misalignment agrees with the roll measurements performed at the PANTER x-ray test facility.
Soft x-ray spectroscopy with high resolving power (R = λ/Δλ) and large effective area (A) addresses numerous unanswered science questions about the physical laws that lead to the structure of our universe. In the soft x-ray band R > 1000 can currently only be achieved with diffraction grating-based spectroscopy. Criticalangle transmission (CAT) gratings combine the advantages of blazed reflection gratings (high efficiency, use of higher diffraction orders) with those of conventional transmission gratings (relaxed alignment tolerances and temperature requirements, transparent at higher energies, low mass), resulting in minimal mission resource requirements, while greatly improving figures of merit. Diffraction efficiency > 33% and R > 10, 000 have been demonstrated for CAT gratings. Last year the technology has been certified at Technology Readiness Level 4 based on a probe class mission concept. The Explorer-scale (A > 450 cm2 , R > 2500) grating spectroscopy Arcus mission can be built with today's CAT grating technology and has been selected in the current Explorer round for a Phase A concept study. Its figure of merit for the detection of weak absorption lines will be an order of magnitude larger than current instruments on Chandra and XMM-Newton. Further CAT grating technology development and improvements in the angular resolution of x-ray optics can provide another order of magnitude improvement in performance, as is envisioned for the X-ray Surveyor/Lynx mission concept currently under development for input into the 2020 Decadal Survey. For Arcus we have tested CAT gratings in a spectrometer setup in combination with silicon pore optics (SPO) and obtained resolving power results that exceed Arcus requirements before and after environmental testing of the gratings. We have recently fabricated the largest (32 mm x 32 mm) CAT gratings to date, and plan to increase grating size further. We mounted two of these large gratings to frames and aligned them in the roll direction using a laser-based technique. Simultaneous x-ray illumination of both gratings with an SPO module demonstrated that we can exceed Arcus grating-to-grating alignment requirements without x rays.