Focusing Gamma-rays for sub-MeV astrophysics:Development of a Laue lens

Nicholas Barriere
Space Sciences Laboratory


While the soft gamma-ray sky is very rich in physics, the development of nuclear astrophysics is hampered by technical difficulties. Observing celestial gamma-ray emission is first and foremost a matter of extracting a weak signal from an intense and complex instrumental background. Laue lenses are an emerging technology which will complement existing telescopes to achieve increased sensitivity and angular resolution in selected energy bands within the 100 keV – 1.5 MeV range.  The search for galactic positrons emitters and the understanding of Type Ia supernovae explosion physics are among the main science goals addressable with a Laue lens telescope. The performance of such lens relies entirely on the crystals that compose it; thus, the search for efficient crystals and their characterization in high-energy beams is of prime importance.

I will present the status of the development of Laue lenses, emphasizing our results with crystals and our plans to build a Laue lens prototype at SSL. Then I’ll show what we can expect from this technology (sensitivity, field of view, imaging) with a telescope featuring a Laue lens either onboard a balloon gondola or a satellite.