Nuria Gutiérrez-Luna, Belén Perea-Abarca , Lucía Espinosa-Yáñez , Carlos Honrado-Benítez , Tomás de Lis , Luis Vicente Rodríguez-de Marcos , José Antonio Aznárez and Juan Ignacio Larruquert
More efficient and stable far ultraviolet (FUV) mirrors will enable future space observatories. Traditional FUV mirrors are based on MgF2 protected Al. AlF3 has been identified as a promising substitute for MgF2 to prevent Al oxidation. Hence, the reflectivity, stability, and morphology of AlF3 protected Al mirrors have been investigated as a function of deposition temperature of the AlF3 film. In this work, it is shown how AlF3 deposition temperature is an important parameter whose optimization ultimately yields valuable throughput enhancement and improved endurance to large storage periods. Al films were deposited at room temperature (RT) and AlF3 protective layers were deposited at temperatures ranging from RT to 350 °C. It was found that the optimum AlF3 deposition temperature was between 200 and 250 °C, yielding the largest FUV reflectance and a better stability of the mirrors, which had been stored in a desiccator environment. Increasing AlF3 deposition temperature resulted in an increase in film density, approaching bulk density at 250 °C. The morphology of Al and AlF3 films as a function of AlF3 deposition temperature was also investigated. The increase in the AlF3 deposition temperature resulted in a decrease of both Al and AlF3 surface roughness and in the growth of the grain width at the AlF3 outer surface. It also resulted in a trend for the prevalent (111) planes of Al nanocrystals to orient parallel to the coating surface.