Carbon NanoBud optical filter for the X-Ray applications

20th July 2020
Alex Lynn

Canatu has been awarded with a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop Carbon NanoBud (CNB) -based optical filter for the X-Ray applications. During the 1,5-year project, Canatu will develop, test, and supply a prototype of the CNB -based optical filter that can pass X-Rays and block other wavelengths, thereby ensuring accurate X-Ray imaging of the celestial objects.

Technical readiness will be proven in full-size feasibility tests that simulate the conditions onboard the space telescope. If successful, the CNB -based optical filter is slated to travel to space onboard in a future space telescope, Athena. With the launch foreseen in 2028, the Athena will study the hot and energetic Universe obtaining information about black holes and how they relate to the creation of galaxies and galactic clusters.

Celestial objects emit a wide range of wavelengths. X-Rays are the shortest wavelengths that travel the furthest in space which means that if you can sensor X-Rays, you can see the farthest in space. Since X-radiation is completely absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, instruments to detect X-Rays must be taken to high altitude or in space by a telescope. An aluminum coating on the optical filter suppresses the ultraviolet and visible radiation of the objects.

For the filter to perform in the X-Ray application, it must remain highly transparent and robust to withstand the launch of the satellite. Thanks to unique mechanical properties and extremely thin meshes of the carbon nanobuds, the CNB -based filter provides extremely high X-ray transparency, robustness to pressure differentials and chemical inertness which suggest strong potential for the X-Ray filter application.

“We are extremely delighted to partner with ESA on the development of optical filters for the X-Ray applications. It demonstrates the wide applicability of the Carbon NanoBuds even in the most demanding conditions in space,” said Ilkka Varjos, CTO, Canatu Oy.

Canatu and ESA co-operation initiated a year ago and the early demonstration phase where large area and extremely thin CNB foils were demonstrated, has been successful. As a result, Canatu was granted with the project to research the feasibility of the material for the application.

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