Existing refractive X-ray lenses are characterized by either small apertures due to high absorption in the border areas. They can only be used with synchrotron sources, offering high brilliance. By increasing transparency and aperture the range of applications will expand, common X-ray tubes might turn out to be reasonable X-ray sources in an application with X-ray lenses. A basic concept that meets the demands is an X-ray Fresnel lens. But, Fresnel X-ray lenses are hard to fabricate, since the smaller lens structures need to be produced with extremely high aspect ratios. As an alternative, the
Fresnel structures can be replaced by an array of prism-shaped structures. In particular equilateral triangular structures are easier to fabricate and additionally give a higher
surface-volume-ratio, increasing transparency. At the Institute for
Microstructure Technology the development of such prism lenses is under way. Due to the physical properties of X-rays, several thousands of precisely arranged prisms with large aspect ratio and smooth sidewalls are needed for a single X-ray lens. Therefore, direct X-ray lithography is used to fabricate the SU-8 microstructures. The length of one single prism edge is of the order of 10 μm. One single prismatic X-ray lens consists of up to 60.000 prisms. With the appropriate X-ray mask, refractive X-ray lenses with an aperture of up to 2 mm, for a source distance of 350 mm and a working distance of 350 mm are being produced, assuming a point-shaped source. These X-ray prism lenses are not optimized for
smallest focal diameter, but designed to illuminate samples in X-ray optical systems. Most important in this application is an as high transparency as possible.