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X-Ray microscopes, like optical microscopes, use lenses to focus light. When using Fresnel lenses, some of the transmitted x-rays are not focused. To block such x-rays, a central stop is usually implemented into the setup.

Together with researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland, microworks has developed a set of central stops with a range of diameters from 10µm to 160µm. The stops consist of circular gold pillars attached to 3 µm thin gold fins without any substrate. The rate of absorption is very high, as the gold height of fins and pillar is 80µm. PSI researchers tested the central stops at Beamline ID21 of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France with great success. This was made possible through the highly precise x-ray LIGA technique. “Further x-ray optical elements such as order-sorting apertures will also be available as off-the-shelf products within the next few months”, says Dr. Joachim Schulz, managing director of microworks.

Central stops are microworks’ first off-the-shelf product. The pillars are 80µm high. Customers may choose any diameter between 10µm and 160µm (in increments of 10µm). There is no supporting substrate; the pillars are fixed to 3-µm-thin fins.

This SEM picture of the smallest pillar on a central stop (10µm) shows the very fine fins which support the gold pillars. X-ray LIGA was used to fabricate 3 µm fins to a height of 80µm.