Although we are part of the Materials Sciences Division (MSD), the Center for X-Ray Optics (CXRO) has enjoyed long standing and multifaceted collaborations with the ALS since its earliest days. We are ALS users, beamline scientists, engineers, and technicians who have built and operate numerous beamlines around the ALS. As the new Acting Director of CXRO, I look forward to expanding and deepening our close collaborations with the ALS community.
CXRO is a one of a kind facility with over 25 years experience providing short wavelength optical solutions. From instrument development to world-leading scientific discovery, our vertically integrated structure allows us to tackle a full spectrum of research. CXRO pursues a broad range of projects to address national needs and technological challenges that impact materials, life, environmental sciences, and x-ray optics. The Center’s current projects are concentrated in five focus areas, and our work supports the basic operations of several beamlines.
On XM-1 (ALS Beamline 6.1.2) our soft x-ray microscopy program led by Peter Fischer drives research in nanoscience, reaching spatial resolutions as small as 10 nm. Nanoscale magnetism, materials and environmental science, and energy related research are among the primary research areas. Peter supports an active ALS user program in addition to the highly successful MSD program in nanomagnetism.
Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is the future of computer chip fabrication. CXRO runs two major industry-funded programs in this space. One is my own area of research: The Micro-field Exposure Tool (MET) (ALS Beamline 12.0.1). which is focused on the development of ultra-high resolution EUV patterning tools and methods to study advanced lithographic materials. Our second EUV program, the SEMATECH Berkeley Actinic Inspection Tool (AIT) (ALS Beamline 11.3.2) is lead by Kenneth Goldberg (see this month’s highlight Investigating EUV Lithography Mask Defects). Our EUV mask inspection program develops instruments and techniques to study the unique EUV response to defects, mask architectures, and defect repair strategies years ahead of commercial EUV imaging tools.
Wavefront and coherence control are the keys to nanoscale imaging, pattering, nano-focusing, and brightness preservation for synchrotrons and future FEL light sources. CXRO research in these areas includes Fourier synthesis illuminators, holographic coherence control, and 50-picometer-accuracy wavefront metrology. These concepts are woven into our experimental system designs. Wavefront metrology specifically is the subject of a joint ALS/MSD LDRD project on ALS Beamline 5.3.1. This work sets the stage for current and future instruments at the ALS as well as the NGLS.
The CXRO Reflectometer (ALS Beamline 6.3.2) run by Eric Gullikson serves as a worldwide calibration standard for the EUV/soft-x-ray community. Accurate material, coating, and detector calibrations have enabled tremendous progress in multilayers, and in short wavelength optical systems over the past 15 years.
Beyond the ALS walls, CXRO operates facilities and conducts advanced research in areas critical to everything we do: multilayer coatings, nanofabrication including diffractive optical elements, and precision engineering.
Eric Gullikson heads our advanced coatings lab, supporting CXRO and ALS beamlines and delivering custom coatings to groups worldwide. CXRO also develops coatings for frontier projects with broadband attosecond optical elements.
Erik Anderson and Weilun Chao run the vital nanofabrication facilities that produce optics and custom nanostructures for every CXRO beamline, and many other beamlines at the ALS, including the National Center for X-Ray Tomography (NCXT). CXRO zoneplates deliver high performance imaging to light sources around the world, and our nanofabrication expertise supports a host of other research activities including support for the magnetic storage and semiconductor industries.
The foundation of our work, and the engine that keeps our experimental systems in the scientific forefront, is CXRO’s precision engineering team, led by Senajith (Seno) Rekawa. Our experimental, scientific success relies on our precision engineering group’s skill at delivering world leading instrumentation on very tight schedules. CXRO’s engineering team has earned a reputation for excellence and is frequently called upon by the ALS for precision tasks.
Although we are independent, CXRO and the ALS are tightly intertwined, and both organizations benefit from our close collaboration. I look forward to the bright future we will create together at the ALS, and at light sources of the future.