Novel low-energy neutral atom imaging technique

Earl E. Scime, Herbert O. Funsten, David J. McComas, Kurt R. Moore, Michael A. Gruntman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Recently proposed low-energy neutral atom (LENA) imaging techniques rely on collisional processes to convert LENAs into ions to separate the neutrals from the intense UV radiation background. At low energies, these collisional processes have poor conversion efficiencies and limit the angular resolution of these devices. However, if the intense UV light background can be suppressed, direct LENA detection is possible. We present results from a series of experiments designed to develop a novel filtering structure based on free-standing gold transmission gratings. If the grating period is sufficiently small, the gratings can substantially polarize UV light in the wavelength range 300 to 1500 Å. If a second grating is placed behind the first grating with its axis of polarization oriented perpendicular to that of the first, considerable attenuation of the UV radiation is achievable. The neutrals pass through the remaining open area of two gratings and are directly detected. We have obtained nominal 2000-Å-period (1000-Å bars with 1000-Å slits) gratings and measured their UV and atomic transmission characteristics. The geometric factor of a LENA imager based on this technology is comparable to that of other proposed LENA imagers, with a significantly better angular resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-361
Number of pages5
JournalOptical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Engineering


  • Atmospheric remote sensing
  • Magnetospheric imagery
  • Neutral atom detection
  • Transmission gratings
  • Ultraviolet polarizers


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