Piezoelectric actuators are widely employed in adaptive optics to enable an actively controlled mirror surface and improve the optical resolution and sensitivity. Currently two new prototype adaptive X-ray optical systems are under development through the Smart X-ray Optics project in a UK based consortium. One proposed technology is micro-structured optical arrays (MOAs) which uses aligned micro-channels structures obtained by deep silicon etching using both dry and wet techniques and bonded piezoelectric actuators to produce a micro-focused X-ray source for biological applications. The other technology is large scale optics which uses a thin shell mirror segment with 20-40 bonded piezo-actuators for the next generation of X-ray telescopes with an aim to achieve a resolution greater than that currently available by Chandra (0.5"). The Functional Materials Group of Birmingham University has the capability of fabricating a wide range of piezo-actuators including, for example, unimorph, bimorph and active fibre composites (AFC) by using a viscous plastic processing technique. This offers flexibility in customising the shapes (from planar to 3-D helix) and feature sizes (>20 μm) of the actuators, as well as achieving good piezoelectric properties. PZT unimorph actuators are being developed in this programme according to the design and implementation of the proposed mirror and array structures. Precise controls on the dimension, thickness, surface finishing and the curvature have been achieved for delivering satisfactory actuators. Results are presented regarding the fabrication and characterisation of such piezo-actuators, as well as the progress on the large optic and MOAs prototypes employing the piezo-actuators.
- micro-structured optical arrays
- active X-ray Optics
- X-ray telescopes
- Piezoelectric actuators