Project ESA21

The team at INFLPR developed a custom-made DLC nanofilm deposition equipment and also a technology to be integrated within a manufacturing facility of the ATHENA Space telescope mirror of the European Space Agency (ESA).

ATHENA is a next-generation X-ray space observatory designed to study the hot, million-degree Universe (e.g. supermassive black holes, evolution of galaxies and large-scale structures and matter under extreme conditions). The observatory concept is based on novel telescope optics with the focal plane instrumentation consisting of a Wide Field Imager (WFI) and Cryogenic X-ray Spectrometer – the X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU). The envisaged launch date is 2031.

The high-technology product we developed consists of a large-scale plasma source for deposition of nanoscale DLC films with high precision (below 1 nm) thickness uniformity over 400 mm and roughness below 0.5 nm.

This is a critical technology and was designed and built for the Core Technology Programme (CTP) of ESA to improve the low effective energy reflectivity of the mirror.