For ground- and spaced based applications, Ag coated reflectors are indispensable because of their high reflectivity. The transport, assembling and storage of these reflectors takes a long time, before they are finally commissioned for the actual applications. To endure this period without a decrease of reflectivity, protective coatings with a final layer, which offers a high resistance to aqueous solutions and a low mechanical stress should be used. These criteria were taken into account for the selection of a final layer for a protected Ag-coating, which was applied for reflectors utilized in the CRIRES+- instrument (an IR spectrograph used at the VLT). Reactively sputtered Al2O3, SiO2 and Si3N4 layers were investigated with regard to these criteria. In aqueous (basic) solutions, the investigated Si3N4 layers are more stable than the SiO2 layers, and the SiO2 layers are more stable than the Al2O3 layers. This shows the influence of the intrinsic material properties. The mechanical stress of the sputtered layers depends on the deposition conditions and thus on the selected parameters. A Si3N4 layer with a high resistance to aqueous solutions also offers a low and stable mechanical stress. Therefore, the deposition-parameters which have been used for this layer were applied for sputtering the final layer of the protected Ag-coating for the reflectors.
Order sorting filters had to be coated for the CRyogenic InfaRed Echelle Spectrograph upgrade (CRIRES+)-instrument, a high-resolution IR spectrograph to be set up at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. Therefore SiO2 was chosen as material with low refractive index. Si and Ge have been investigated as materials with high refractive index, whereby Si has been chosen for the application of the coating. Three types of high-pass filters were deposited with transmission bands starting at 0.96μm, 1.47μm and 2.9μm. These filters need to block effectively all wavelengths between 0.5 μm and the respective band. Therefore, in the blocking range, an optical density above four, or above three for the filter starting at 2.9 μm respectively, had to be achieved. The filter-coatings also needed to survive thermal cycling down to 65K while only introducing a small wave front error. The lower total thickness, compared to coatings consisting of other materials, and the low film-stress are favorable properties for coatings deposited onto prisms and other more complex optical components.
Time durability and environmental stability of silver-coated glass mirrors improve if silver layer is protected by a transparent thin film coating. The choice of the protecting layer material and of the methods for mirror manufacturing influences the mirror optical and mechanical properties. This work reports on a systematic study of silver mirrors overcoated by silicon oxide, nitride and oxy-nitrides. Variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry was implemented to get an insight on metal-dielectric interface of the coatings. The results have been analyzed considering the coating deposition conditions and physical-chemical properties of the dielectric materials used as protective layers.
High-reflective coatings are indispensable in order to manufacture mirrors with highest possible reflectivity. The maximum reflectivity can be achieved by all-dielectric coatings; however, the spectral bandwidth of these mirrors is limited. For astronomical applications metal based coatings (Al, Au, Ag) are commonly applied, as they allow high reflectivity and at the same time a broad spectral bandwidth.
The optical system of the hyperspectral imager of the Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program (EnMAP) consists of a three-mirror anastigmat (TMA) and two independent spectrometers working in the VNIR and SWIR spectral range, respectively. The VNIR spectrometer includes a spherical NiP coated Al6061 mirror that has been ultra-precisely diamond turned and finally coated with protected silver as well as four curved fused silica (FS) and flint glass (SF6) prisms, respectively, each with broadband antireflection (AR) coating, while the backs of the two outer prisms are coated with a high-reflective coating. For AR coating, plasma ion assisted deposition (PIAD) has been used; the high-reflective enhanced Ag-coating on the backside has been deposited by magnetron sputtering. The SWIR spectrometer contains four plane and spherical gold-coated mirrors, respectively, and two curved FS prisms with a broadband antireflection coating. Details about the ultra-precise manufacturing of metal mirrors and prisms as well as their coating are presented in this work.
In order to manufacture mirrors metal based coatings (Al, Au and Ag) are applied, as they enable a high reflectivity and at the same time a broad spectral bandwidth. Of all metals, Ag provides the highest reflectivity from VIS to IR.
Silver is a noble metal. However, corrosion activators (e.g. S and Cl) can lead to corrosion. Thus, a protective layer is required to prevent the corrosion and sustain the high reflectivity of the mirror. However, damage of the Ag-coating can occur, even in the case of protected-Ag. Inhomogeneous film growth of the protective layer can lead to a permeation of corrosion activators and thus to a damage of the Ag. But also the deposition of impervious protective layers is not sufficient for long-term environmental stability. Hygroscopic air borne particles can weaken the protection and therefore subsequently lead to a permeation of corrosion activators and thus to a damage of the Ag.
These damage mechanisms lead to criteria for a durable and efficient protection. AlOxNy and nanolaminates have been tested with respect to these criteria. In particular the protection based on nanolaminates shows a great potential for the protection of Ag. In addition, also the optical performance can be improved by UV-enhancement based on different nanolaminates.