The last word in X-ray grating technology

The last word in X-ray grating technology

CAT Scale Next to American Coin

X-ray optics technology continues to evolve, so that future astrophysical x-ray observatories will have better performance than modern observatories, surpassing even Chandra.

High resolution soft X-ray spectroscopy provides particularly useful observations that can provide data on the evolution of scale structures in space, conditions near black holes, in stellar atmospheres, etc.

Spectrometers with new X-ray gratings with a critical angle (CAT) promise that the spectral resolution (R) will reach 5000, which is 5-10 times more than modern indicators. The technology was successfully demonstrated in 2016.

A high resolution spectrometer with a soft X-ray lens for deployment in space needs light focusing optics with excellent angular resolution and gratings that can scatter X-rays with the highest possible angles and minimal aberrations.

It took almost 10 years to create such a technology, and the demonstration itself in the laboratory was difficult to implement. The fact is that I had to combine unique test hardware, such as a long X-ray beam and a narrow spectral source. Future X-ray missions equipped with new technology will be able to obtain significantly improved absorption and emission spectroscopy of such mysterious objects as the black hole winds and hot gas in the space network. Spectrographs will also be able to observe the heliosphere, powerful X-rays and mark neutral particles in the earth's magnetosphere.

In 2016, the Space Nanotechnology Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provided silicon lattices coated with a thin layer of platinum. The Marshall Space Flight Center was used as the beam line. The X-ray optics team at Goddard Space Flight Center provided light focusing optics.

Developers continue to improve CAT grating technology to achieve higher efficiency. Now it is suggested to use it for the mission of Explorer and Lynx (potential receiver Chandra).

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