Skip to main content

Randall McEntaffer

Department Head of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics
randall mcentaffer
Please visit our group's webpage ( for a full description of our research!


PhD, Astrophysics, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2007

BS/BS, Physics/Astronomy, University of Iowa, 2000

Contact Info

505 Davey Lab

Phone: 814-863-6091



Biographical Info

I specialize in the design, fabrication, testing, and implementation of diffraction gratings for high throughput, high resolving power astrophysical observations. My research topics include the fabrication of UV/X-ray gratings using nanofabrication methodologies, alignment and testing of aligned grating modules, and the incorporation of grating modules into space-based spectrometers. My astronomical interests include studying diffuse X-ray objects such as supernova remnants and their interactions with their environments.  Missions I'm currently working on will study a broad range of science goals ranging from the cycle of hot baryons in the Universe to the radiation environment around extrasolar planets.  In my free time I like to hang out with my wife and four children.  In my free free time I enjoy fishing, gaming, and ultimate frisbee.

Current Mission Affiliations

Lynx - Flagship Class - Instrument Working Group Co-Chair, Leader of Reflection X-ray Grating Spectrograph

Arcus - Mid-Explorer Class - Co-I/Institutional PI, Ground Calibration Lead, Instrument Control Unit Provider

ESCAPE - Small-Explorer Class - Co-I/Institutional PI, Grating Provider

tREXS - Suborbital Rocket - PI

OGRE - Suborbital Rocket – PI

Selected Recent Publications

1. DeRoo, C. T., Termini, J., Grisé, F., McEntaffer, R. L., Donovan, B. D., & Eichfeld, C., "Limiting Spectral Resolution of a Reflection Grating Made via Electron-Beam Lithography," The Astrophysical Journal, 904, 142, 2020.

2. DeRoo, C. T., McEntaffer, R. L., Donovan, B. D., Grisé, F., Eichfeld, C., Burwitz, V., Hartner, G., Pelliciari, C., & La Caria, M-M., “Large-format X-Ray Reflection Grating Operated in an Echelle-like Mounting,” The Astrophysical Journal, 897, 92, 2020.

3. McCoy, J. A., McEntaffer, R. L., & Miles, D., “Extreme Ultraviolet and Soft X-ray Diffraction Efficiency of a Blazed Reflection Grating Fabricated by Thermally Activated Selective Topography Equilibration,” The Astrophysical Journal, 891, 114, 2020.

4. McEntaffer, R. L., “Reflection grating concept for the Lynx X-ray Grating Spectrograph,” Journal of Astronomical Telescopes Instruments and Systems, 5, 021002, 8 pages, 2019.

5. Miles, D. M., Hull, S. V., Schultz, T. B., Tutt, J. H., Wages, M., Donovan, B. D., McEntaffer, R. L., Falcone, A. D., Anderson, T., Bray, E., Burrows, D. N., Chattopadhyay, T., Eichfeld, C. M., Empson, N., Grisé, F., Hillman, C. R., McCoy, J. A., McQuaide, M., Myers, B. J., Steiner, T., Verschuuren, M. A., Yastishock, D., & Zhang, N., “Water Recovery X-ray Rocket grating spectrometer,” Journal of Astronomical Telescopes Instruments and Systems, 5, 044006, 11 pages, 2019.

6. Donovan, B. D., McEntaffer, R. L., Tutt, J. H., O’Meara, B. C., Grisé, F., Allgood, K. A., Biskach, M. P., Chan, K-W, Hlinka, M., Kearney, J. D., Mazzarella, J. R., McClelland, R. S., Numata, A., Riveros, R. E., Saha, T. T., Solly, P. M., Zhang, W. W., Holland, A. D., Lewis, M. R., Soman, M. R., & Holland, K., “An updated optical design of the off-plane grating rocket experiment,” Proceedings of the SPIE, 11119, 1111912, 14 pages, 2019.

7. Miles, D. M., McEntaffer, R. L., Tutt, J. H., Anderson, T., Weiss, M., Baker, L., Weston, J., O’Meara, B., McCurdy, R. C., Myers, B., & Grisé, F. “An introduction to the Rockets for Extended-source X-ray Spectroscopy,” Proceedings of the SPIE, 11118, 111180B, 8 pages, 2019.

8. Smith, R. K., et al., “Arcus: The Soft X-ray Grating Explorer,” Proceedings of the SPIE, 11118, 111180W, 13 pages, 2019.

9. France, K., Fleming, B. T., Drake, J. J., Mason, J. P., Youngblood, A., Bourrier, V., Fossati, L., Froning, C. S., Koskinen, T., Kruczek, N., Lipscy, S., McEntaffer, R., Romaine, S., Siegmund, O. H. W., & Wilkinson E., “The extreme-ultraviolet stellar characterization for atmospheric physics and evolution (ESCAPE), mission concept” Proceedings of the SPIE, 11118, 1111808, 14 pages, 2019.

10. McCurdy, R. C., McEntaffer, R. L., McCoy, J. A., and Miles, D. M., “Fabrication and diffraction efficiency of a 160-nm period X-ray reflection grating produced using thermally activated selective topography equilibration,” Proceedings of the SPIE, 11119, 111190Y, 9 pages, 2019.

11. Beasley, M. McEntaffer, R., & Cunningham, N., “Advances in aberration-correting gratings using electron beam fabrication techniques,” Proceedings of the SPIE, 11118, 1111816, 9 pages, 2019.

12. DeRoo, C. T., McEntaffer, R. L., Donovan, B. D., Grisé, F., Zhang, W. W., Collon, M., and Barrière, N., “Curved Diffractive X-ray Optics for X-ray Astronomy,” Proceedings of the SPIE, 11119, 1111910, 9 pages, 2019.