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High-brilliance 9keV X-ray Source


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Sensors

OBJECTIVE: Develop a high-flux 9keV x-ray source with a spot size larger than 10um

DESCRIPTION: Rapid Integrated Circuit (IC) inspection has become a high priority. X-ray inspection of large volumes of an IC is limited to the high intensity beams at a synchrotron. However, those facilities are not easily accessible for routine inspection of parts. Table-top x-ray sources output, at best, 109 x-ray photons/sec(mrad2)mm2(0.1%BW) at 9keV. This limits the quality of the images and the throughput. Mini-synchrotron-like inverse Compton scattering sources may achieve these fluxes, but they are much larger and more complicated to operate. A high-brilliance 9keV x-ray source is needed to quickly image the small features of modern ICs in an x-ray microscope.

PHASE I: Perform a study and provide the preliminary design of an innovative x-ray source. Identify new pathways on how to achieve an x-ray source with the following characteristics: 1) X-ray peak energy between 9 and 11keV (above Cu K lines) 2) Brightness of 1x1011 photons/sec(mrad2)mm2(0.1%BW)) or higher 3) Spot size between 10um and 40um 4) Foot print smaller than 40cm x 40cm x 60cm (not including power supply and chiller) 5) Unstructured spot with a Gaussian profile 6) If pulsed, less than 1% variation in total intensity and in spatial profile from shot to shot The design and detailed specs need to be provided not only for the x-ray source but also for the power supply, chiller (no larger than 10ft3), and any other equipment necessary to operate the source. An interlock that allows a temporary pause in the projection of x-rays without a long (at most 1 minute) re-start time needs to also be designed. Deliver a report of research and innovation that presents tradeoffs between the new approach and existing technology. If any of the above constraints cannot be adhered to, the report must include relevant research and rationale. Offerors may provide alternative parameters that are both attainable and consistent with the goals summarized above. The report must also include all generated files (e.g., CAD drawings) and a program plan for source development.

PHASE II: Based on the aforementioned research, and applicable development/innovation, build the designed prototype. Test and deliver the prototype, characterization results, all generated files (e.g., final CAD drawings, test results), operation instructions, and the test plan to the Government for further testing and verification. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: There may be opportunities for further development of this source for use in a specific military or commercial application. During a Phase III program, offerors may refine the performance of the design and produce pre-production quantities for evaluation by the Government.


  • O. Hemberg, M. Otendal, and H. M. Hertz (August 2003) Liquid-metal-jet anode electron-impact x-ray source – Applied Physics Letters.
  • Graves, W.S. et al. “MIT inverse Compton source concept.” Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment 608.1 (2009): S103-S105. R&D toward a compact high-brilliance X-ray source based on channeling radiation.
  • Piot, P. and Brau, C. A. and Gabella, W. E. and Choi, B. K. and Jarvis, J. D. and Lewellen, J. W. and Mendenhall, M. H. and Mihalcea, D., AIP Conference Proceedings, 1507, 734-739 (2012), DOI: I.
  • Kieffer, P. Gergaud, P. Dova, P. Panine, S. Rodrigues. Development of a High Brilliance X-ray Source For Advanced Thin Film Characterization. 2011 NIST Semiconductor and Dimensional Metrology Division Conference (October 2011).
  • Weisshaupt, Jannick, et al. “High-brightness table-top hard X-ray source driven by sub-100-femtosecond mid-infrared pulses.” Nature Photonics 8.12 (2014): 927-930.

KEYWORDS: X-ray source, Imaging, X-ray flux

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