James Webb telescope benefits from beryllium

Beryllium specialist Materion Corporation says that it provided components for imaging technology used by the James Webb space telescope.

The telescope recently released a series of full-color images of distant galaxy clusters.

According to Materion, the images are made possible by NIRCam imaging technology, one of multiple instrument modes for scientific observation. Materion developed new bands for the NIRCam instrument, filters for a near infrared imager and slitless spectrograph, and NIRCam coronographic occulting masks that block out things that do not need to be seen.

The company’s beryllium is also used for the telescope’s secondary and tertiary mirrors and support structures for the primary mirrors, while Materion also supplied metals to help manufacture solar panels on the telescope.

“Beryllium is very lightweight, a third lighter than aluminum, extremely stiff and can be polished very well,” said Keith Smith, vice president at Materion. “It also functions well at cryogenic temperatures which made it the perfect material for the telescope. The telescope features a special grade of gas atomized beryllium which is lightweight and has the properties needed for the telescope’s primary mirror.”