Investigation of boron carbide and iridium thin films, an enabling technology for future x-ray telescopes

S. Massahi*, F. E. Christensen, D. D. M. Ferreira, S. Svendsen, P. L. Henriksen, L. M. Vu, N. C. Gellert, A. S, Jegers, B. Shortt, M. Bavdaz, I. Ferreira, M. Collon, B. Landgraf, David Alain Girou, A. Sokolov, W. Schoenberger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We present an experimental examination of iridium and boron carbide thin-film coatings for the purpose of fabricating x-ray optics. We use a combination of x-ray reflectometry and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to model the structure, composition, density, thickness, and micro-roughness of the thin films. We demonstrate in our analyses how the two characterization techniques are complementary, and from this we derive that an overlayer originating from atmospheric contamination with a thickness between 1.0–1.6 nm is present on the surface. The magnetron sputtered iridium films are measured to have a density of 22.4g/cm3. The boron carbide film exhibits a change in chemical composition in the top ∼2nm of the film surface when exposed to the ambient atmosphere. The chemical reaction occurring on the surface is due to an incorporation of oxygen and hydrogen present in the ambient atmosphere. Lastly, we present a correlation between the absorption edges and the emission lines exhibited by the thin films in an energy range from 50–800 eV and the impact on the reflectivity performance due to contamination in thin films.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10902
JournalApplied Optics
Issue number34
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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