With a simple lens the Sun's rays can be focused to a spot strong enough to burn paper.
Focusing visible light is one thing but can you focus X-rays in the same way?
This may seem impossible as X-rays are highly penetrating and they would travel straight through glass without any effect.
However by making several alterations it becomes possible: change the glass lens to one made of beryllium, reduce the diameter of the lens, increase the curvature and make it concave rather than convex then you can begin to see a slight focussing effect. Now stack 100 or more of these beryllium lenses together and you have constructed a device that focusses X-rays.
Throughout an experiment it is often necessary to change the strength of the lens assembly. This can easily be done by adjusting the number of lenses in the assembly. Moreover, it needs to be executed via remote control while ensuring that all the lenses are precisely aligned so that a focussed spot is obtained and finally the assembly must be within a vacuum chamber.
It is a tough task, but Engineers at Diamond have taken up the challenge and produced a device that fits all the requirements. It is called an F-switch because you can easily change the focal length.
Watch the videos below to see how the F-switch works.
The Principle of the F-switch
Video 1: X-ray beam (red) being focussed to different distances by the F-switch depending on the location of the sample under investigation.
Mechanism of the F-switch
Video 2: The mechanism which moves the different individual lenses of the F-switch in and out of the X-ray beam depending on the requirement of the experiment.
Positioner of the F-switch
Video 3: The entire unit the moves the F-switch into the best location in order to work accurately.