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cosine and ZEISS partnership: new machines to boost up Silicon Pore Optics production for Athena

The work continues for cosine and our technology development team as we prepare for the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Athena mission. In the context of our collaboration with ZEISS Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology Segment (SMT), ESA has recently approved the delivery of two robots for the polishing of mandrels, an important component in the production of Silicon Pore Optics (SPO).

ZEISS SMT is an international company located in Germany, specializing in the manufacture of lithography optics, photomask systems as well as process control solutions for the semiconductor manufacturing industry.. Our companies have been partners for the past 20 years, focusing on the development of mandrels. Mandrels play a crucial role in manufacturing large batches of X-ray optics by providing the accurate shape that SPO stacks copy.

Given the number of mandrels required by Athena (more than 50) and the timescales involved, ESA decided to ask ZEISS to acquire dedicated machines for the task. By now the new machines, that are located at ZEISS SMT in Oberkochen, Germany, have been readied.

Athena (Advanced Telescope for High-ENergy Astrophysics) is ESA’s future large X-ray telescope, equipped with state-of-the-art scientific instruments. It is designed to address key questions in astrophysics as part of the Cosmic Vision science theme, “The Hot and Energetic Universe.” cosine is collaborating with industrial and academic partners to prepare for the production of optics for Athena. In this ambitious project, cosine is developing productions processes to be able to supply hundreds of X-ray optics mirror modules, utilizing its Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) technology.

About SPO
Silicon Pore Optics is a revolutionary technology invented and produced by cosine, in cooperation with ESA. It involves the bonding and stacking of many silicon wafers, creating a novel type of lightweight X-ray lens. cosine’s High Energy Optics business unit is internationally known for the development and application of X-ray optics and systems. It combines and applies knowledge about semiconductor processes, silicon, glass, and mass production to develop and produce lightweight, high-resolution X-ray optics. Those find applications ranging from space-based astrophysical telescopes to medical, semiconductor, and material analysis systems used by industry and academia.

About cosine
cosine is a leading worldwide company in the development of space instrumentation, such as Silicon Pore Optics and remote sensing solutions with onboard processing. We combine physics and technology to bring out-of-the-box solutions to our clients. We have been developing and delivering innovative measurement systems for space and industrial applications since 1998. Our company operates 1,000 m2 of cleanrooms and high-tech assembly facilities to build and test the systems we produce for customers at our headquarters in Sassenheim, The Netherlands.

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