GUNTUR: A scientist from Guntur city, Dr Panini Singam, has secured the prestigious Justice Oak Award from the Astronomical Society of India (ASI) for his research in detecting multilayer mirrors to capture X-rays. ASI said the innovative methodology has led to a comprehensive understanding of the design and fabrication of multilayer mirrors. Dr Panini is presently a post-doctoral research fellow at National Aeronautics and Space Administration, MSFC. ASI will present the award on Sunday.
“The practice of X-ray astronomy is challenged with major technological limitations. Unlike the X-ray sources we have in our laboratories, celestial objects are often very faint and hence we need large area sensors to increase the efficiency of observation. But the major difficulty in building X-ray sensors lies in the development of mirrors which can efficiently reflect X-rays. As X-rays have small wavelengths, they pass through practically all substances with very little interaction. This makes building sensors and mirrors difficult for X-ray astronomy,” Dr Panini told STOI.
This issue is traditionally addressed by using grazing incidence mirrors where X-rays reflect at a very small angle from the surface. While grazing incidence X-ray optics is popular within the X-ray astronomy community, it has many limitations. Telescopes made with these types of mirrors have a small bandwidth, a small effective area and are very bulky.
“To address this, we (in collaboration with IIA, ISRO and RRCAT) developed multilayer mirrors which can efficiently reflect X-rays even at very high angles,” said Dr Panini.