A Soft Gamma-Ray Concentrator Using Thin-Film Multilayer Structures


We have begun to investigate the use of thin-film, multilayer structures to form optics capable of concentrating soft gamma rays with energies greater than 100 keV, beyond the reach of current grazing-incidence hard X-ray mirrors. Alternating layers of low- and high-density materials (e.g., polymers and metals) will channel soft gamma-ray photons via total external reflection. A suitable arrangement of bent structures will then concentrate the incident radiation to a point. Gamma-ray optics made in this way offer the potential for soft gamma-ray telescopes with focal lengths of less than 10 m, removing the need for formation flying spacecraft and opening the field up to balloon-borne instruments. Building on initial investigations at Los Alamos National Laboratory, we are investigating whether it is possible to grow such flexible multi-layer structures with the required thicknesses and smoothness using magnetron sputter and pulsed laser deposition techniques. We present the initial results of tests aimed at fabricating such structures by combining magnetron sputtering with either spin coating or pulsed laser deposition, and demonstrating gamma-ray channeling of 122 keV photons in the laboratory. If successful, this technology offers the potential for transformational increases in sensitivity while dramatically improving the system-level performance of future high-energy astronomy missions through reduced mass and complexity.



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Proceedings of SPIE



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