X-ray optics were fabricated with the capability of imaging solar x-ray sources with better than 0.1 arcsecond angular resolution, over an order of magnitude finer than is currently possible.

Such images would provide a new window into the little-understood energy release and particle acceleration regions in solar flares. They constitute one of the most promising ways to probe these regions in the solar atmosphere with the sensitivity and angular resolution needed to better understand the physical processes involved.

A circular slit structure with widths as fine as 0.85 micron etched in a silicon wafer 8 microns thick forms a phase zone plate version of a Fresnel lens capable of focusing ≈6 keV x-rays. The focal length of the 3-cm diameter lenses is 100 m, and the angular resolution capability is better than 0.1 arcsecond. Such phase zone plates were fabricated in Goddard’s Detector Development Lab. (DDL) and tested at the Goddard 600-m x-ray test facility. The test data verified that the desired angular resolution and throughput efficiency were achieved.

This work was done by Brian Dennis and Mary Li of Goddard Space Flight Center and Gerald Skinner of the University of Maryland. For further information, contact the Goddard Innovative Partnerships Office at (301) 286-5810. GSC-16418-1