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  • Scientists Invent High-efficiency Nano 3D Printed Polymer X-ray Lenses
    Oct 22, 2018


    Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart use 3D printing to create X-ray lenses with nano-sized features and excellent focusing capabilities from polymer materials. This new technology enables them to produce each single lens with extremely favorable X-ray optical properties in less than a minute, reducing the cost of prototyping and manufacturing. The scientists applied for a patent for their invention.


    X-ray microscopy is an imaging tool that uniquely combines nano-sized resolution with large penetration depth. X-ray microscopy or XRM is the only technology that can study buried features at high resolution. For example, it allows you to view defects in the central processing unit without destroying the computer, making the micromachine visible under working conditions and studying nature. Organelles of cells in the environment. However, focusing of X-rays requires optics with challenging nano-scale geometries. Due to its complex nanofabrication method, a single lens can cost up to tens of thousands of euros.


    The modern magnetic systems and physical intelligence division of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart has teamed up to find a new, cheaper way to make 3D Kinoforms, converging lenses that effectively focus X-rays. Kinoforms are manufactured in a non-ideal approximate pattern and require a complex multi-step manufacturing process. This is where 3D printing comes into play. They found that femtosecond two-photon nano 3D printing is the best way to make such diffractive X-ray optics.


    Due to radiation damage, the XRM X-ray optical system needs to be replaced almost every year. Therefore, it is important to find a high-yield manufacturing process to manufacture an X-ray lens. Dr. Kahraman Keskinbora, head of the Micro/Nano Group, and his team chose two-photon polymerization (2PP) polymers to make X-ray lenses. In addition, both tantalum and diamond are difficult to shape into the desired 3D profile on the nanometer scale. With the new invention, the 3D printing of the lens takes less than a minute, so the cost of prototyping and manufacturing of the X-ray lens is greatly reduced. In addition, polymer lenses are safe to manufacture and, once optimized, are simple to make.


    Take a step forward by combining several lenses together. By integrating various optics, the research team can effectively control and manipulate the X-ray wavefront. As several lenses and other wavefront forming elements are positioned one after the other, the research team can optimize these integrated X-ray optics, even for the very hard X-ray energy range, so there are many new research sites to follow. .