Skip Navigation
Space Technology Research Grants

Development of Grating Technology for High-Resolution Spectrometers Using Nanofabrication Techniques

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Development of Grating Technology for High-Resolution Spectrometers Using Nanofabrication Techniques
Several of astronomy's key future science objectives as identified by NASA can be achieved with soft X-ray spectroscopy. This study seeks to develop a new technique for fabricating X-ray reflection gratings to be integrated in future X-ray spectrometer designs. The fabrication method developed in this study will create a reflection grating with a true radial profile, which is a requirement in order to eliminate grating-induced aberrations to the telescope focus and achieve the required resolving power of future missions. If successful, the technology developed in this study will lead to the realization of theoretical X-ray spectrometer performance on timescales consistent with the next decadal survey. This study will build on our research group's strong heritage in the development of X-ray reflection gratings and introduce a new fabrication technique that retains current state-of-the-art grating efficiency while also achieving order-of-magnitude improvements in resolving power. The new fabrication technique is centered around piezoelectric materials and will be approached as follows: first, I will model grating applications of piezoelectric materials and conduct trade-study to determine most suitable piezoelectric materials to be used in grating fabrication. I will then obtain materials and begin implementation of the planned fabrication procedures: create a "master" grating with parallel grooves current electron-beam lithography (EBL) employed in our grating fabrication efforts in order to retain the precise groove facets achievable with EBL; the EBL "master" will then be imprinted into a soft resist that is coated upon a wafer of piezoelectric material, beneath which are electrodes to control the current through the material; with the parallel-groove profile imprinted into the resist, a variable current will be applied across the piezoelectric material to force the resist to conform to a pre-selected pattern, which will transform the parallel grooves into a radial profile without sacrificing the precise facets introduced in the original EBL write; the pattern will then be UV-cured in order to solidify the resist and lock the radial profile into place; finally, this new piezoelectric master will be used to imprint dozens of replicas. The entire process will certainly require a significant amount of development and trial-and-error, which includes testing intermediate prototypes at NASA centers for both efficiency and resolution. However, if implemented successfully, this technology will make possible both the order-of-magnitude gains in effective area and resolving power over current observatories that is required for future X-ray missions. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

Project Library

Share this Project

Organizational Responsibility

Project Management

Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

Technology Areas

Target Destinations

Light bulb

Suggest an Edit

Recommend changes and additions to this project record.
^