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Appl Opt. 2007 Jun 10;46(17):3400-16.

Production and evaluation of silicon immersion gratings for infrared astronomy.

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Department of Astronomy, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712, USA.


Immersion gratings, diffraction gratings where the incident radiation strikes the grooves while immersed in a dielectric medium, offer significant compactness and performance advantages over front-surface gratings. These advantages become particularly large for high-resolution spectroscopy in the near-IR. The production and evaluation of immersion gratings produced by fabricating grooves in silicon substrates using photolithographic patterning and anisotropic etching is described. The gratings produced under this program accommodate beams up to 25 mm in diameter (grating areas to 55 mm x 75 mm). Several devices are complete with appropriate reflective and antireflection coatings. All gratings were tested as front-surface devices as well as immersed gratings. The results of the testing show that the echelles behave according to the predictions of the scalar efficiency model and that tests done on front surfaces are in good agreement with tests done in immersion. The relative efficiencies range from 59% to 75% at 632.8 nm. Tests of fully completed devices in immersion show that the gratings have reached the level where they compete with and, in some cases, exceed the performance of commercially available conventional diffraction gratings (relative efficiencies up to 71%). Several diffraction gratings on silicon substrates up to 75 mm in diameter having been produced, the current state of the silicon grating technology is evaluated.

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