BYU Authors: David D. Allred
, R. Steven Turley
, Stephanie M. Thomas, Spencer G. Willett, Michael J. Greenburg, and Spencer B. Perry, published in Proc. SPIE
Protective layers on aluminum mirror surfaces which can be removed via the use of atomic hydrogen or hydrogen plasmas at the point of use in space may allow an expansion of broad-band mirrors into the EUV. LUVOIR (large, UV-optical-IR telescope) is a potential NASA flagship space-based observatory of the 2020’s or 30’s. It would utilize the largest mirrors ever flown1 . Their reflective coating will almost certainly be aluminum, since such telescopes would profit from truly broad-band mirrors. To achieve reflectance over the broadest band, the top surface of such aluminum mirrors, however, needs to be bare, without the oxide layers that naturally form in air. This will open the 11 to 15 eV band. Since thin aluminum films are largely transparent between 15 and 70 eV an EUV mirror under the aluminum could make EUV bands such as 30.4 nm available for space-based astrophysics without sacrificing mirror IR, visible and UV reflectance. The local space environment for the observatory is sufficiently oxygen-free that the surface should remain bare for decades. We discuss protecting as-deposited aluminum mirrors with robust, oxygenimpenetrable, barrier layers applied in vacuo to the aluminum immediately after deposition and before air contact. The goal is that the barrier could also be cleanly, and relatively easily, removed once the mirror is in space. We propose hydrogen atoms as the means for removing the overcoat, since they can be expected to meet the criteria that the means is gentle enough to not roughen the mirror surface, and does not redeposit material on the mirror or other spacecraft components. We have investigated both organic and inorganic (such as, a-Si) hydrogen-removable films that can be applied to the aluminum immediately after its deposition have been investigated. We also examined the REVAP technique, using Cd and Zn. Agglomeration limited their effectiveness as barrier layers. That and dealing with the reevaporated atoms may limit their utility as barrier materials.