The ATHENA X-ray observatory is a large-class ESA approved mission, with launch scheduled in 2028. The technology of silicon pore optics (SPO) was selected as baseline to assemble ATHENA’s optic with hundreds of mirror modules, obtained by stacking wedged and ribbed silicon wafer plates onto silicon mandrels to form the Wolter-I configuration. In the current configuration, the optical assembly has a 3 m diameter and a 2 m2 effective area at 1 keV, with a required angular resolution of 5 arcsec. The angular resolution that can be achieved is chiefly the combination of 1) the focal spot size determined by the pore diffraction, 2) the focus degradation caused by surface and profile errors, 3) the aberrations introduced by the misalignments between primary and secondary segments, 4) imperfections in the co-focality of the mirror modules in the optical assembly. A detailed simulation of these aspects is required in order to assess the fabrication and alignment tolerances; moreover, the achievable effective area and angular resolution depend on the mirror module design. Therefore, guaranteeing these optical performances requires: a fast design tool to find the most performing solution in terms of mirror module geometry and population, and an accurate point spread function simulation from local metrology and positioning information. In this paper, we present the results of simulations in the framework of ESA-financed projects (SIMPOSiuM, ASPHEA, SPIRIT), in preparation of the ATHENA X-ray telescope, analyzing the mentioned points: 1) we deal with a detailed description of diffractive effects in an SPO mirror module, 2) we show ray-tracing results including surface and profile defects of the reflective surfaces, 3) we assess the effective area and angular resolution degradation caused by alignment errors between SPO mirror module’s segments, and 4) we simulate the effects of co-focality errors in X-rays and in the UV optical bench used to study the mirror module alignment and integration.
The work on the definition and technological preparation of the ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics) mission continues to progress. In parallel to the study of the accommodation of the telescope, many aspects of the X-ray optics are being evolved further. The optics technology chosen for ATHENA is the Silicon Pore Optics (SPO), which hinges on technology spin-in from the semiconductor industry, and uses a modular approach to produce large effective area lightweight telescope optics with a good angular resolution. Both system studies and the technology developments are guided by ESA and implemented in industry, with participation of institutional partners. In this paper an overview of the current status of the telescope optics accommodation and technology development activities is provided.
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.
We report the latest results on coating design optimisation and optics performance for the present Ir/B4C baseline coating and alternative designs and materials, including bilayers and linear graded multilayers. We make use of X-ray reflectometry (XRR) to test both coating performance and robustness.
In the frame of the development of the Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics (Athena) mission, currently in phase A, ESA is continuing to mature the optics technology and the associated mass production techniques. These efforts are driven by the programmatic and technical requirement of reaching TRL 6 prior to proposing the mission for formal adoption (planned for 2020). A critical part of the current phase A preparation activities is addressing the industrialization of the Silicon Pore Optics mirror plates coating. This include the transfer of the well-established coating processes and techniques, performed at DTU Space, to an industrial scale facility suitable for coating the more than 100,000 mirror plates required for Athena. In this paper, we explain the considerations for the planned coating facility including, requirement specification, equipment and supplier selection, preparing the coating facility for the deposition equipment, designing and fabrication.
Silicon Pore Optics is a high-energy optics technology, invented to enable the next generation of high-resolution,
large area X-ray telescopes such as the ATHENA observatory, a European large (L) class mission with a launch
date of 2028. The technology development is carried out by a consortium of industrial and academic partners and
focuses on building an optics with a focal length of 12 m that shall achieve an angular resolution better than 5”.
So far we have built optics with a focal length of 50 m and 20 m.
This paper presents details of the work carried out to build silicon stacks for a 12 m optics and to integrate them
into mirror modules. It will also present results of x-ray tests taking place at PTB’s XPBF with synchrotron
radiation and the PANTER test facility.
The ATHENA X-ray observatory is a large-class ESA approved mission, with launch scheduled in 2028. The technology of silicon pore optics (SPO) was selected as baseline to assemble ATHENA's optic with more than 1000 mirror modules, obtained by stacking wedged and ribbed silicon wafer plates onto silicon mandrels to form the Wolter-I configuration. Even if the current baseline design fulfills the required effective area of 2 m2 at 1 keV on-axis, alternative design solutions, e.g., privileging the field of view or the off-axis angular resolution, are also possible. Moreover, the stringent requirement of a 5 arcsec HEW angular resolution at 1 keV entails very small profile errors and excellent surface smoothness, as well as a precise alignment of the 1000 mirror modules to avoid imaging degradation and effective area loss. Finally, the stray light issue has to be kept under control. In this paper we show the preliminary results of simulations of optical systems based on SPO for the ATHENA X-ray telescope, from pore to telescope level, carried out at INAF/OAB and DTU Space under ESA contract. We show ray-tracing results, including assessment of the misalignments of mirror modules and the impact of stray light. We also deal with a detailed description of diffractive effects expected in an SPO module from UV light, where the aperture diffraction prevails, to X-rays where the surface diffraction plays a major role. Finally, we analyze the results of X-ray tests performed at the BESSY synchrotron, we compare them with surface finishing measurements, and we estimate the expected HEW degradation caused by the X-ray scattering.
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.
The Laue lens is a developing technology for focusing soft gamma-rays, that is based on the principle of Bragg diffraction. A suitable arrangement of diffracting crystals is used to concentrate a set of parallel incoming photons onto a common focal spot. In late 2014, the Laue lens assembly station (LLAS) at UC Berkeley was used to construct a prototype lens segment, consisting of 48 5 x 5mm2 crystals - 36 iron and 12 aluminium. The segment is composed of 8 partial rings, each of which is aligned to diffract an energy between 90 and 130 keV. In December 2015 the prototype was tested and calibrated using the LLAS and results are presented here. The crystal mounting speed, accuracy of crystal position and orientation, and crystal reflectivity are addressed.
This study reports development and testing of coatings on silicon pore optics (SPO) substrates including pre and post coating characterisation of the x-ray mirrors using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and X-ray reflectometry (XRR) performed at the 8 keV X-ray facility at DTU Space and with synchrotron radiation in the laboratory of PTB at BESSY II. We report our findings on surface roughness and coating reflectivity of Ir/B4C coatings considering the grazing incidence angles and energies of ATHENA and long term stability of Ir/B4C, Pt/B4C, W/Si and W/B4C coatings.
We use the X-ray ray-tracing package McXtrace to simulate the performance of X-ray telescopes based on Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) technologies. We use as reference the design of the optics of the planned X-ray mission Advanced Telescope for High ENergy Astrophysics (ATHENA) which is designed as a single X-ray telescope populated with stacked SPO substrates forming mirror modules to focus X-ray photons. We show that is possible to simulate in detail the SPO pores and qualify the use of McXtrace for in-depth analysis of in-orbit performance and laboratory X-ray test results.
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.
The Laue lens is a technology for gamma-ray astrophysics whereby gamma-rays of particular energies can be focused by a suitable arrangement of crystals. The Laue lens assembly station at UC Berkeley was used to build a technological demonstrator addressing the key issues of crystal mounting speed, crystal position and orientation accuracy, and crystal reflectivity. The new prototype is a lens segment containing a total of 48 5 x 5 mm2 crystals - 36 Iron and 12 Aluminium. The segment is composed of 8 partial rings, each of which is aligned to diffract an energy between 95 and 130 keV from a source at 12:5m with a focal length of 1:5 m.