UCL Astrophysics Group


Smart X-Ray Optics

The aim of this work is to develop new technologies in the field of X-ray focusing.

The original consortium consisted of University College London (UCL), King’s College London (KCL), Scottish Microelectronic Centre (SMC), Leicester University (UoL), Birmingham University (UB), Gray Cancer Institute (GCI) and Daresbury Laboratory (DL). GCI has now relocated to Oxford; the SXO work has been transferred to King’s, along with equipment and personnel. Silson Ltd. and the Diamond Light Source have been recruited as associate members. Currently, along with the co-investigators, SXO employs 5 post-doctoral researchers and 5 postgraduate students along with technical support.

The SXO project aims to apply the techniques of adaptive/active optics to X-rays. While very major advances have been made in active/adaptive optics for visible light, little was previously achieved for X-ray optics where the technological challenges differ because of the much shorter wavelengths involved. The SXO project has been very successful with significant developments in the technology. We have now identified key areas that need to be further developed in order to allow the exploitation of the technology and this is the basis of the current application.


The SXO project was initiated to address some of the key defects in X-ray focusing optics. These include

  • poor efficiencies (zone plates and, in some cases, multilayer mirrors);
  • poor angular/spatial resolution capabilities (grazing incidence and multilayer mirrors, mono- and poly-capillaries, and compound refractive lenses);
  • large aberrations (grazing incidence mirrors);
  • strong chromatic aberration (zone plates); and
  • low angular and wavelength bandpasses (zone plates and periodic multilayer mirrors).

The project addressed these issues by developing novel active/adaptive grazing incidence optics.