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NASA Develops Silicon X-Ray Mirror Production Technique

William Zhang, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, has developed a silicon-based method to manufacture lightweight X-ray optical mirrors.

NASA said Tuesday that Zhang believes the use of silicon technology will help astrophysicists to create super-thin mirrors that have a large collection area and high resolution.

His goal is to further develop the non-conventional technology through the agency’s Strategic Astrophysics Technology program and meet the standards of the Chandra X-ray observatory in preparation for a future mission.

The agency noted that the new process combines lessons Zhang has learned from a glass slumping project and his team also works to develop methods to align and bond 6,000 mirror segments to create meta-shells that will be embedded into a mirror assembly.

Zhang used a glass slumping process to develop 9,000 super-thin curved glass mirrors for the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array mission, NASA added.

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