Cosine and the European Space Agency (ESA) have agreed to extend collaboration on silicon pore optics (SPO) X-ray mirrors for the Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics (Athena) observatory mission. With this new development contract, the Sassenheim-based company and its partners have been tasked with developing a completely novel manufacturing process and production chain of these lightweight, high-resolution X-ray optics for the next phase of Athena. The telescope will offer spectroscopic and imaging capabilities vastly exceeding those of currently operating X-ray astronomy satellites.
SPO was invented by Cosine in collaboration with ESA and involves the bonding and stacking of many silicon wafers, creating a novel type of lightweight X-ray lens. The company’s High Energy Optics business unit combines and applies knowledge about semiconductor processes, silicon, glass and mass production to develop and produce lightweight, high-resolution X-ray optics. These find applications ranging from space-based astrophysical telescopes to medical, semiconductor and material analysis systems used by industry and academia.
“We’ve been developing these next-generation X-ray optics in cooperation with ESA for more than ten years, so this is a very well-established partnership,” says Max Collon, managing director at Cosine. “This contract is an important step to improve the quality of the X-ray optics further and complete the production chain required to make a telescope with a 300 m2 polished mirror surface.”