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Laser MicroJet (LMJ): an extremely precise cutting method for SPO

On 16 January, cosine received a Laser MicroJet ® (LMJ) machine to improve the production process of Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) X-ray optics for Athena, a large telescope being prepared by the European Space Agency (ESA). The machine has been installed in cosine’s development and production facilities in Sassenheim, The Netherlands, which host more than 1,000 m2 of high-tech cleanroom area for supplying space and industrial customers.

After the assembly phase, the new LMJ machine should be up and running by early February.

The Laser MicroJet ®, by Synova, is a hybrid method of machining, which combines a laser with a “hair-thin” water jet that precisely guides the laser beam by means of total internal reflection in a manner similar to conventional optical fibers. The water jet continually cools the cutting zone and efficiently removes debris. This method resolves significant problems associated with dry lasers such as thermal damage, contamination, deformation, debris deposition, oxidation, micro-cracks and taper.

The acquisition of this machine is part of a large ESA effort to prepare for its large class Athena X-ray observatory, and Synova tailored this machine to cosine’s needs. Athena is the second ‘Large’ mission (L2) in the ESA Cosmic Vision program with the theme “Hot and Energetic Universe”. After continuous industrial studies and significant parallel technology development efforts in phase A the project entered phase B1 by mid-2020 after successfully passing the mission formulation review.

For the Athena project, cosine is developing and supplying hundreds of X-ray optics mirror modules, using cosine’s Silicon Pore Optics (SPO) technology. The LMJ is the most powerful and accurate laser cutting machine in the world, with only three models in the Netherlands. It will enable the continuation of the cutting process of stacks with more efficiency and control, and to reach the production goal for Athena.

cosine and ESA will now further boost the development of SPO, to enable exciting science for the world’s largest X-ray telescope Athena, as well as for other upcoming X-ray missions and X-ray optics applications for industrial customers.

About cosine

cosine is a worldwide leader in the development of Silicon Pore Optics. We combine physics and technology to bring out-of-the-box solutions to our clients. Since 1998, we have been developing and delivering innovative measurement systems for space and industrial applications. 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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