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Research Partnership Advances X-ray Active Optics

London, U.K. – March, 2005:   The active optics technologies that have become well established at visible wavelengths are now being extended into the X-ray domain. A multi-disciplinary team of scientists

from several U.K. institutes is developing actively deformable grazing incidence mirrors for use at X-ray wavelengths. The team is also exploring the potential for this technology across a range of applications from medicine to semiconductor fabrication.

Actively controlled grazing incidence mirrors have the potential to deliver very high resolution systems – focal spots significantly below 1 µm and imaging resolutions much smaller than 1 arc second. They also permit scanning or image optimisation in different parts of the field of view.

The best low-energy X-ray optics currently available are around an order of magnitude away from being diffraction limited, and as the X-ray energy increases the situation rapidly deteriorates. Active X-ray mirrors promise a very large performance gain for applications that include the micro-irradiation of cells; X-ray lithography in microfabrication; X-ray astronomy and X-ray microscopy.
Soft X-Ray Optics, Spiller

The participants in the EPSRC-funded Smart X-ray Optics project are 
the Optical Science Laboratory, UCL; 
the Scottish Microelectronics Centre; 
the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL; 
the X-ray Group, King’s College London and 
the Gray Cancer Institute. 

A grazing incidence mirror shell under test at UCL.
 Image: Optical Science Laboratory, UCL
Full Article   (pp.2–4, Smart Optics Newsletter, Issue 7)

© 2006
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