Student: Cecilia Fasano, graduate student in Physics, University of Iowa
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Casey DeRoo
Fabricating the Next Generation of High Energy Reflection Gratings
I will be completing a project designing and fabricating the next generation of ultraviolet diffraction gratings for use in astronomy. This work will enable future astronomical instruments to reach higher resolutions than ever before, leading to better data, better scientific outcomes, and new possibilities for scientific inquiry. NASA’s “Astrophysical Strategic Technology Priorities and Gaps” consistently ranks UV spectrograph components as top priorities for continued investment. These technology priorities tie to NASA’s Strategic Objectives for the Astrophysics Division which include probing the origin and eventual fate of our universe, better understanding planet habitability, and investigating the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars, and planets. To do this science, we must build better instruments. NASA has defined a number of next-generation high-resolution spectrographs including Hyperion, HabEx’s UVS, and Lynx’s XGS which fulfill a variety of science needs in high energy astrophysics. The work we will do characterizing and developing a mature method for manufacturing high-resolution, blazed diffraction gratings remain a high priority and benefit these missions. Advancements made in x-ray grating fabrication have demonstrated electron beam lithography (EBL) in combination with potassium hydroxide (KOH) wet-etching is a promising technique for fabricating custom patterned, high-resolution diffraction gratings. Under the guidance of my mentor, Dr. Casey DeRoo, co-mentor, Dr. Keri Hoadley, and the support of a recent FINESST award, I will use UIowa’s micro-fabrication facilities to put these techniques into practice for use in the UV.