The invention uses iridium and iridium compounds as a protective capping layer on multilayers having reflectivity in the deep ultra-violet to soft x-ray regime. The iridium compounds can be formed in one of two ways: by direct deposition of the iridium compound from a prepared target or by depositing a thin layer (e.g., 5-50 angstroms) of iridium directly onto an element. The deposition energy of the incoming iridium is sufficient to activate the formation of the desired iridium compound. The compounds of most interest are iridium silicide (IrSi.sub.x) and iridium molybdenide (IrMo.sub.x).
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG48 between the United Stabes Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.