X-Ray Telescopes & the Electromagnetic Spectrum (picture: jpl.nasa.gov)

High Energy Instrumentation

X-Ray Telescopes & the Electromagnetic Spectrum (image: jpl.nasa.gov)

Members of this research group are:

X-Ray Optics:
Desiree Della Monica Ferreira, Senior Researcher
Sonny Massahi, Postdoc
Sara Svendsen, Postdoc
Nis Christian Gellert, PhD student
Arne S Jegers, PhD student
Finn Erland Christensen, Senior Researcher Emeritus

Radiation Detectors:
Irfan Kuvvetli, Senior Researcher
Selina Howalt Owe, PhD student
Carl Budtz-Jørgensen, Senior Researcher Emeritus


X-ray telescopes allow for a view of the universe in high energy and help us understand not only the most energetic cosmic events but also how the universe evolved to be as it is.At DTU Space we design, develop, produce and characterize X-ray optics for high-energy astronomical telescopes. 

Our laboratories allow for production of X-ray super mirrors and X-ray test data including reflectance/throughput data to infer the structure of reflecting mirror coatings and surface micro roughness of X-ray super mirrors as well as determination of X-ray optical constants and film densities.

To design, characterize and calibrate our instruments, we carry out simulation of performance by ray-tracing of X-ray telescopes accounting for all known physical processes interfering with the throughput and performance of the telescope from assumptions of simple perfect geometry to complex scatter characteristics.

Through the development of X-ray optics, we also contribute to observational X-ray astrophysics, supporting the analysis of X-ray observations and simulation of X-ray astronomical observations.

Over the past years we have been particularly involved with the development of the X-ray optics for the Athena X-ray observatory, for the NuSTAR mission and for the IAXO experiment.

(Image: NASA-JPL-Caltech Nustar optics)


The electromagnetic radiation emission from astrophysical sources contain valuable information. Within the X- and Gamma-ray domain, detection processes observing these sources are challenging. Future hard X- and gamma-ray imaging telescopes require advanced spectral and imaging capabilities from the sensors. DTU Space develops high-energy, high-resolution, state-of-the-art semiconductor detectors for this purpose.

We do research in detector and instrument development for the future high energy astronomy missions, which can allow early participation in the missions for the astrophysicists, and thus define the science.

DTU Space has more than 40 years of experience and know-how in detector development, starting in the 1980’s with variations of gas proportional counters to now over the last more than two decades being leading the development of a special brand of a semiconductor detector. The detector research projects have since 1996 worked on improving the performance significantly using existing detector materials. The research and development activities resulted in the development of several methods, including the Drift Strip Method (DSM) providing unprecedented sub-mm three-dimensional spatial resolution and close to Fano-limit spectral resolution (1% FWHM @ 661.2 keV).

An example of the development model and the 3D CZT drift strip detector (Illustration: DTU)

The development has (so far) resulted in two patents:

  • Patent 1: “X-ray and Gamma-Ray Radiation Detector”,
    IPC No.: G01T1/24, patent No.: WO2015078902, June 4, 2015.
  • Patent 2: “Z-position correction method for 3D CZT detectors”,

Although originally developed for use in astrophysical missions, we also exploit the multi-use ability of the detector systems, e.g. within Nuclear Medical Imaging and Homeland Security. The excellent fine resolution both in position and energy makes the detector systems very versatile and attractive for several purposes.

Detector test setup (Image: DTU Space/Mikal Schlosser)


Multilayer Coating Laboratory

Inside the laboratory (Image: DTU Space/Mikal Schlosser)

8 keV laboratory (FCXR)

Inside the laboratory (Image: DTU Space/Mikal Schlosser)

1,5 keV laboratory (LEXR)

Inside the laboratory (Image: DTU Space/Mikal Schlosser)

Detector laboratory

Inside the laboratory (Image: DTU Space/Mikal Schlosser)