Gamma ray Fresnel lenses — why not?

  • G. K. SkinnerEmail author


Fresnel lenses offer the possibility of concentrating the flux of X-rays or gamma-rays flux falling on a geometric area of many square metres onto a focal point which need only be a millimetre or so in diameter (and which may even be very much smaller). They can do so with an efficiency that can approach 100%, and yet they are easily fabricated and have no special alignment requirements. Fresnel lenses can offer diffraction-limited angular resolution, even in a domain where that limit corresponds to less than a micro second of arc.

Given all these highly desirable attributes, it is natural to ask why Fresnel gamma ray lenses are not already being used, or at least why there is not yet any mission that plans to use the technology. Possible reasons (apart from the obvious one that nobody thought of doing so) include the narrow bandwidth of simple Fresnel lenses, their very long focal length, and the problems of target finding. It is argued that none of these is a ‘show stopper’ and that this technique should be seriously considered for nuclear astrophysics.


Gamma-ray Astronomy Optics 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Skinner, G.K.: Diffractive/refractive optics for high energy astronomy-I: Gamma-ray Fresnel lenses. A&A 375, 691 (2001), “-II: Variations on the Theme”, A&A 383, 352 (2002)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Canizares, C.R. et al.: The Chandra high-energy transmission grating. PASP 117, 836 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Skinner, G.K.: Design and imaging performance of achromatic diffractive-refractive x-ray and gamma-ray lenses. Appl. Optics 43, 4845 (2004)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  4. 5.
    Gendreau, K.C. et al.: Requirements and options for a stable inertial reference frame for a 100-microarcsecond imaging telescope. Proc SPIE 4852, 685 (2002)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Phillips, J.D. et al.: Metrology and pointing for astronomical interferometers. Proc SPIE 5491, 320 (2004)CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Krizmanic, J. et al.: Formation flying for a Fresnel lens observatory mission. Experimental Astronomy 20, DOI: 10.1007/s10686-006-9038-1 (2005)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Etude Spatiale des RayonnementsToulouseFrance

Personalised recommendations