Canatu joins European Space Agency’s project to develop an optical filter for the X-Ray applications using Canatu carbon nanotubes

Developed for ESA’s future X-Ray space telescope the Athena, the optical filter using Canatu CNT could enable further visibility to space.

Canatu has been awarded with a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop Canatu carbon nanotube (Canatu CNT) -based optical filter for the X-Ray applications. During the 1,5-year project, Canatu will develop, test, and supply a prototype of an optical filter using Canatu CNT that can pass X-Rays and block other wavelengths, thereby ensuring accurate X-Ray imaging of the celestial objects. Technical readiness will be proven in full-size feasibility tests that simulate the conditions onboard the space telescope. If successful, the Canatu CNT -based optical filter is slated to travel to space onboard in a future space telescope, Athena. With the launch foreseen in 2028, the Athena will study the hot and energetic Universe obtaining information about black holes and how they relate to the creation of galaxies and galactic clusters.

“We are extremely delighted to partner with ESA on the development of optical filters for the X-Ray applications. It demonstrates the wide applicability of Canatu carbon nanotubes even in the most demanding conditions in space,” says Ilkka Varjos, CTO, Canatu Oy.

Celestial objects emit a wide range of wavelengths. X-Rays are the shortest wavelengths that travel the furthest in space which means that if you can sensor X-Rays, you can see the farthest in space. Since X-radiation is completely absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, instruments to detect X-Rays must be taken to high altitude or in space by a telescope. An aluminum coating on the optical filter suppresses the ultraviolet and visible radiation of the objects. For the filter to perform in the X-Ray application, it must remain highly transparent and robust to withstand the launch of the satellite. Thanks to unique mechanical properties and extremely thin meshes of the carbon nanobuds, the CNT -based filter provides extremely high X-ray transparency, robustness to pressure differentials and chemical inertness which suggest strong potential for the X-Ray filter application.

Canatu and ESA co-operation initiated a year ago and the early demonstration phase where large area and extremely thin CNT foils were demonstrated, has been successful. As a result, Canatu was granted with the project to research the feasibility of the material for the application.

The contract will be carried out under a programme of and funded by the European Space Agency. The view expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.


Mari Makkonen Canatu VP Marketing and Communications
Mari Makkonen
VP, Marketing & Communications +358 504 422 343

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About Canatu
Canatu is a carbon nanomaterial developer creating the most advanced carbon nanotubes for industry-transforming products. The Canatu carbon nanotube (CNT) technology has been created with a unique process that ensures the required versatility and reliability for highly engineered solutions. Canatu partners with forerunner companies, together transforming products for better tomorrows with nano carbon. The company’s focus is in the automotive and semiconductor industries with the portfolio’s core spanning from ADAS heaters to 3D touch sensors and to EUV membranes. The experts at Canatu think big and create impacts on the tiniest scale – nano solutions for massive impact. Canatu’s headquarters are in Finland with sales offices also in the US, Japan and Taiwan.