We study the fabrication of X-ray diffraction gratings for use on NASA astronomical missions ranging in size from suborbital rockets to Explorer missions, to Probes and flagship missions. The process utilizes many micro- and nano-fabrication tools, most of which are located at the amazing PSU Materials Research Institute nano-fabrication facility. Through these studies we have been able to fabricate and replicate large format (75 x 96 mm), high-density (>6000 grooves/mm), variable line spaced (periodicity step changes of 0.25 nm), blazed (10-55 degree blaze angles) diffraction gratings for X-ray applications.
NASA Technology Testing
Our strategic NASA technology development efforts also involve the testing and qualification of reflection gratings for use in the X-ray. This involves diffraction efficiency testing at synchrotron facilities such as the Advanced Light Source at LBNL and the PTB beamline at BESSY II. Testing is also performed at X-ray beamlines such as NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center’s Stray Light Facility and the PANTER X-ray Test Facility at Max-Plank Institute in Munich to quantify spectral resolving power. Our gratings are capable of high spectral resolving power and high diffraction efficiency over a large energy band (~0.2-2.0 keV ) with high efficiency per order.
Our group also leads a suborbital rocket team to develop critical technologies for future NASA X-ray missions. Our current payload is the Off-plane Grating Rocket Experiment (OGRE), which is scheduled to launch in 2020. This spectrograph will incorporate silicon optics from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, electron multiplying CCDs from collaborators at the Open University and XCAM in the UK, as well as diffraction gratings made here at PSU. The payload will obtain the highest resolution soft X-ray spectrum to date. The observation target is Capella, a binary giant star system with intense coronal activity, and a common X-ray calibration source.
Meet Our Team!
Our group is made up of Faculty & Staff, Graduate students, and Undergraduates. To see the full team and read their bios, click the button to the right!