Technology

Using innovation in laser produced plasma source technology
"to miniaturize the synchrotron"

The key technology at the core of the SXT100 is a high-performance soft x-ray light source based on laser-produced plasma emission. The tiny fireball produced emits the soft x-rays that are used for cell imaging but it also produces a lot of metal debris. Patented, self-healing optics are then employed to collect, filter and focus the soft x-rays onto the cell sample to be imaged.

Soft X-Ray Source Technology

Up to now, the only sources of soft x-rays bright enough to illuminate a soft x-ray microscope are produced by synchrotrons. These large, football stadium sized facilities accelerate electrons in a circular path to very high energies. When these electrons change direction they lose energy in the form of soft x-rays, which are directed via a beamline to the soft x-ray microscope. Only four synchrotrons with soft x-ray beamlines and microscopes capable of biological imaging exist.

Soft X-Ray Performance

The performance of the compact soft x-ray source design is determined by the intensity, focal spot shape and stability of the soft x-ray beam at the Intermediate Focus point, as shown in the diagram.

The main difference between the SiriusXT source and Synchrotron outputs is that the former contains a broad spectrum of wavelengths whereas the latter is monochromatic. For this reason, the SiriusXT source is filtered to remove unwanted wavelengths and the source target material is selected so the it has a maximum intensity at the desired wavelength.

The broad soft x-ray source spectrum will provide the capability, in future revisions of the SXT100 design, to carry out hyperspectral imaging at multiple discrete wavelengths.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 738774.