We have been studying Lynx, an X-ray Observatory with factors of 10 to 1000 greater imaging and spectroscopic capabilities than any other existing or planned facility. We present a Design Reference Mission (DRM) driven by the need to solve fundamental problems in three broad areas of astrophysics. The Lynx Observatory will provide discovery space for all of astrophysics, and also address questions which will only be revealed as our knowledge increases. Studies supported by the Advanced Concepts Office at MSFC for the observatory design and operations take advantage of the highly successful architecture of the Chandra Observatory. A light-weight mirror with 30 times the Chandra effective area, and modern microcalorimeter and CMOS based X-ray imagers will exploit the 0.5 arcsec imaging capability. Operating at Sun/Earth L2, we expect 85% to 90% of the time to be spent acquiring data from celestial targets. Designed for a five year baseline mission, there are no expected impediments to achieving a 20 year goal. This paper presents technical details of the Observatory and highlights of the mission operations.
Lynx, one of the four strategic mission concepts under study for the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey, provides leaps in capability over previous and planned x-ray missions and provides synergistic observations in the 2030s to a multitude of space- and ground-based observatories across all wavelengths. Lynx provides orders of magnitude improvement in sensitivity, on-axis subarcsecond imaging with arcsecond angular resolution over a large field of view, and high-resolution spectroscopy for point-like and extended sources in the 0.2- to 10-keV range. The Lynx architecture enables a broad range of unique and compelling science to be carried out mainly through a General Observer Program. This program is envisioned to include detecting the very first seed black holes, revealing the high-energy drivers of galaxy formation and evolution, and characterizing the mechanisms that govern stellar evolution and stellar ecosystems. The Lynx optics and science instruments are carefully designed to optimize the science capability and, when combined, form an exciting architecture that utilizes relatively mature technologies for a cost that is compatible with the projected NASA Astrophysics budget.
Piezoelectric adjustable x-ray optics use magnetron sputtered thin film coatings on both sides of a thin curved glass substrate. To produce an optic suitable for a mission requiring high-angular resolution like “Lynx,” the integrated stresses (stress×thickness) of films on both sides of the optic must be approximately equal. Thus, understanding how sputtered film thickness distributions change for convex and concave curved substrates is necessary. To address this, thickness distributions of piezoelectric Pb0.995(Zr0.52Ti0.48)0.99Nb0.01O3 films are studied on flat, convex, and concave cylindrical substrates with a 220-mm radius of curvature. A mathematical model of the film thickness distribution is derived based on the geometric properties of the sputter tool and the substrate, and film thicknesses deposited with a commercially available sputtering tool are measured with spectroscopic ellipsometry. Experiment and modeled results for flat and convex curved substrates demonstrate good agreement, with average relative thickness distribution difference of 0.19% and −0.10% respectively, and a higher average difference of 1.4% for concave substrates. The calculated relative thickness distributions are applied to the convex and concave sides of a finite-element analysis (FEA) model of an adjustable x-ray optic prototype. The FEA model shows that, left uncorrected, the relative film thickness variation will yield an optic with an optical performance of 2.6 arc sec half power diameter (HPD) at 1 keV. However, the mirror figure can be corrected to diffraction-limited performance (0.3 arc sec HPD) using the piezoelectric adjusters, suggesting that the tolerances for applying a balanced integrated stress on both sides of a mirror are alleviated for adjustable x-ray optics as compared to traditional static x-ray mirrors. Furthermore, the piezoelectric adjusters will also allow changes in mirror figure over the telescope lifetime due to drift in the stress states of the x-ray surfaces to be corrected on orbit.
Adjustable X-ray optics is the technology under study by SAO and PSU for the realization of the proposed X-ray telescope Lynx. The technology is based on thin films of lead-zirconate-titanate (PZT) deposited on the back of thermally formed thin substrates, and represents a potential solution to the challenging trade-off between high-surface quality and low mass, that limits the performance of current generation of X-ray telescopes. The technology enables the correction of mirror fabrication figure, mounting induced distortions, and on-orbit correction for variations in the mirror thermal environment. We describe the current state of development, presenting updated test data, anticipation of performances and expectations.
The combination of the hot slumping and the Ion Beam Figuring (IBF) technologies can be a very competitive solution for the realization of x-ray optics with excellent imaging capabilities and high throughput. While very thin mirrors segments can be realized by slumping with residual figure errors below few hundreds of nanometres, a non-contact and deterministic process (dependent on dwell time), like IBF, is a very effective post facto correction, as it avoids all the problems due to the handling and the supporting system. In the last years, the two processes were proven compatible with very thin sheet of Eagle XG glasses (0.4 mm thickness). Nevertheless, the fast convergence of the process is a key factor to limit the cost of the mirror plate production. A deeper characterization of removal function stability showed that its repeatability between each run has to be improved for a real enhancement of the process convergence factor. A new algorithm based on de-convolution has been implemented and tested, with important advantages in terms of calculation speed, minimum material removal and optimization possibilities. By analysing the metrological data of test slumped glasses, we showed how the IBF is effective in the correction of figure errors on scales above 8 - 10 mm. An overall figuring time of few hours is required with surface error around 100 nm rms. Thanks to the thickness measurement data, which are performed in transmission mode with an interferometric set-up, we demonstrated that it is possible to disentangle the effective amount of the material removed and the deformations introduced during the process.
Thin x-ray optics with high angular resolution (≤ 0.5 arcsec) over a wide field of view enable the study of a number of astrophysically important topics and feature prominently in Lynx, a next-generation x-ray observatory concept currently under NASA study. In an effort to address this technology need, piezoelectrically adjustable, thin mirror segments capable of figure correction after mounting and on-orbit are under development. We report on the fabrication and characterization of an adjustable cylindrical slumped glass optic. This optic has realized 100% piezoelectric cell yield and employs lithographically patterned traces and anisotropic conductive film connections to address the piezoelectric cells. In addition, the measured responses of the piezoelectric cells are found to be in good agreement with finite-element analysis models. While the optic as manufactured is outside the range of absolute figure correction, simulated corrections using the measured responses of the piezoelectric cells are found to improve 5 to 10 arcsec mirrors to 1 to 3 arcsec [half-power diameter (HPD), single reflection at 1 keV]. Moreover, a measured relative figure change which would correct the figure of a representative slumped glass piece from 6.7 to 1.2 arcsec HPD is empirically demonstrated. We employ finite-element analysis-modeled influence functions to understand the current frequency limitations of the correction algorithm employed and identify a path toward achieving subarcsecond corrections.
The proposed Lynx telescope is an X-ray observatory with Chandra-like angular resolution and about 30 times larger effective area. The technology under development at SAO is based on the deposition of piezoelectric material on the back of glass substrates, used to correct longer wavelength figure errors. This requires a large number (about 8000) of figured segments with sufficient quality to be in the range of correctibility of the actuators. Thermal forming of thin glass offers a convenient approach, being based on intrinsically smooth surfaces (which doesn’t require polishing or machining), available in large quantity and at a low cost from flat display industry. Being a replica technique, this approach is particularly convenient both for development and for the realization of modular/segmented telescopes. In this paper we review the current status and the most recent advances in the thermal forming activities at SAO, and the perspectives for the employment of these substrates for the adjustable X-Ray optics.
The high-quality surface characteristics, both in terms of figure error and of micro-roughness, required on the mirrors of a high angular resolution x-ray telescope are challenging, but in principle well suited with a deterministic and non-contact process like the ion beam figuring. This process has been recently proven to be compatible even with very thin (thickness around 0.4mm) sheet of glasses (like D263 and Eagle). In the last decade, these types of glass have been investigated as substrates for hot slumping, with residual figure errors of hundreds of nanometres. In this view, the mirrors segments fabrication could be envisaged as a simple two phases process: a first replica step based on hot slumping (direct/indirect) followed by an ion beam figuring which can be considered as a post-fabrication correction method. The first ion beam figuring trials, realized on flat samples, showed that the micro-roughness is not damaged but a deeper analysis is necessary to characterize and eventually control/compensate the glass shape variations. In this paper, we present the advancements in the process definition, both on flat and slumped glass samples.
Piezoelectric adjustable optics are being developed for high throughput, high resolution, low mass Xray mirror assemblies. These optics require robust piezoelectric thin films and reproducible lithographic patterning on curved glass substrates. This work details the cleaning of Corning Eagle XG glass substrates for thin shell X-ray mirrors by a three stage acid and solvent cleaning procedure before a 0.02 μm Ti adhesion layer and a 0.1 μm Pt bottom electrode layer was deposited using DC magnetron sputtering. Piezoelectric Pb(Zr0.52Ti0.48)0.99Nb0.01O3 thin films with a thickness of 1.5 μm were then deposited by radio frequency magnetron sputtering in three 0.5 µm layers with intermittent annealing steps in a rapid thermal annealing furnace at 650°C for 60 seconds. Defects observed in the piezoelectric thin films were linked to residue remaining on the glass after cleaning. 112 piezoelectric cells and 100 μm wide conductive Pt traces were patterned using bilayer photolithography. The photoresist layers were deposited using spin coating at 2000 and 4000 RPM to achieve uniform 1 μm thick layers, resulting in reproducibly resolved features with limiting resolutions of approximately >25 μm. The resulting mirror pieces achieved a 100% yield, with average relative permittivity of 1270, dielectric loss 0.047, coercive field 30 kV/cm and remanent polarization of 20 μC/cm2 . While the defects observed in the films appeared to have not influence on the electrical properties, additional cleaning steps using DI water were proposed to further reduce their presence.
Thin X-ray optics with high angular resolution (≤ 0.5 arcseconds) over a wide field of view enable the study of a number of astrophysically important topics, and feature prominently in Lynx, a next-generation X-ray observatory concept currently under NASA study. To produce such optics, we propose to use piezoelectrically adjustable, thin mirror segments capable of figure correction after mounting and on-orbit. In the present work, we report on the fabrication and characterization of an adjustable cylindrical slumped glass optic. This optic has realized 100% piezoelectric cell yield and employs lithographically patterned traces and anisotropic conductive film (ACF) connections to address the piezoelectric cells. The response of the piezoelectric cells are found to agree with finite-element analysis models, and simulated corrections to distortions are found to improve 7 – 10 arcsecond mirrors to 1 – 2 arcseconds (HPD, single reflection at 1 keV). Moreover, such a figure change is empirically demonstrated using an adjustable slumped glass optic, and we identify a path for achieving subarcsecond corrections.
In order to advance significantly scientific objectives, future x-ray astronomy missions will likely call for x-ray telescopes
with large aperture areas (≈ 3 m2) and fine angular resolution (≈ 12). Achieving such performance is programmatically
and technologically challenging due to the mass and envelope constraints of space-borne telescopes and to the need for
densely nested grazing-incidence optics. Such an x-ray telescope will require precision fabrication, alignment, mounting,
and assembly of large areas (≈ 600 m2) of lightweight (≈ 2 kg/m2 areal density) high-quality mirrors, at an acceptable cost
(≈ 1 M$/m2 of mirror surface area). This paper reviews relevant programmatic and technological issues, as well as possible
approaches for addressing these issues-including direct fabrication of monocrystalline silicon mirrors, active (in-space
adjustable) figure correction of replicated mirrors, static post-fabrication correction using ion implantation, differential
erosion or deposition, and coating-stress manipulation of thin substrates.
For more than two decades, Northrop Grumman Xinetics has been the principal supplier of small deformable
mirrors that enable adaptive optical (AO) systems for the ground-based astronomical telescope community. With
today’s drive toward extremely large aperture systems, and the desire of telescope designers to include adaptive
optics in the main optical path of the telescope, Xinetics has recognized the need for large active mirrors with the
requisite bandwidth and actuator stoke. Presented in this paper is the proposed use of Northrop Grumman Xinetics’
large, ultra-lightweight Silicon Carbide substrates with surface parallel actuation of sufficient spatial density and
bandwidth to meet the requirements of tomorrow’s AO systems, while reducing complexity and cost.