December 10, 2019

Additive manufacturing of tailor-made X-ray optics

3D-printed aberration-corrective phase plate
3D-printed aberration-corrective phase plate to improve the imaging performance of high-precision X-ray optics. Image: See citation below this piece of news.

Scientists developed tailor-made phase plates for high-resolution X-ray microscopy. The phase plates can correct spherical aberrations of Beryllium refractive lenses. They used Nanoscribe’s additive manufacturing technology to fabricate the phase plate structure adapted to a certain X-ray lens stack to achieve distortion-free imaging.

“This is like when you go to an optician, who gives you the right glasses for your eyes. Our phase plates, in principle, work in the same way as corrective glasses in the X-ray regime” explains Andreas Schropp of the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), Germany. In this project his team from DESY and Universität Hamburg collaborated with the Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland, where the corrective optics were made, and with other partners from Ruhr Universität Bochum, Germany, and Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

X-ray microscopy is a powerful method for the characterization of chemical and biological specimens. This technique finds applications in soil science, geochemistry and material sciences to investigate the structure of specimens with high spatial resolution. Beryllium compound refractive lenses are very well established focusing optics in the hard X-ray regime. However, their performance suffers in some cases from spherical aberrations that alter imaging results. To correct the spherical aberrations scientists explored a straightforward additive method to fabricate custom-made phase plates tailored to the Beryllium lens stacks in use. By means of Nanoscribe’s 3D Microfabrication, they produced phase plates that perfectly compensated the lens stack errors, correcting spherical aberrations and improving the image quality in test specimens.

Corrective phase plate by rapid prototyping

In the first step, the researchers measured the phase error of the lens stack directly after the optics. A model derived from this measurement was used as a basis to fabricate the corrective phase plate. Additive manufacturing on the microscale was used to faithfully reproduce the tailored phase plate shape. The 3D-printed phase plate features smooth surfaces, steep slopes and optical quality. The results of the used Beryllium lens stack with the 3D printed phase plate show an improved image of the test specimen in comparison to the non-corrected lens stack.

Read the scientific article here: Full-field hard X-ray microscopy based on aberration-corrected Be CRLs

Title image source note

Andreas Schropp, Dennis Brückner, Jessica Bulda, Gerald Falkenberg, Jan Garrevoet, Johannes Hagemann, Frank Seiboth, Kathryn Spiers, Frieder Koch, Christian David, Marianna Gambino, Martin Veselý, Florian Meirer, Christian G. Schroer, "Full-field hard X-ray microscopy based on aberration-corrected Be CRLs", Proc. SPIE 11112, X-Ray Nanoimaging: Instruments and Methods IV, 1111208 (2019)

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