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Astrophysics Research and Analysis Program

A 1.5k x 1.5k class photon counting HgCdTe linear avalanche photo-diode array for low background space astronomy in the 1 – 5 micron infrared.

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A 1.5k x 1.5k class photon counting HgCdTe linear avalanche photo-diode array for low background space astronomy in the 1 – 5 micron infrared.
Under a current award, NASA NNX 13AC13G “EXTENDING THE ASTRONOMICAL APPLICATION OF PHOTON COUNTING HgCdTe LINEAR AVALANCHE PHOTO-DIODE ARRAYS TO LOW BACKGROUND SPACE OBSERVATIONS” UH has used Selex SAPHIRA 320 x 256 MOVPE L-APD HgCdTe arrays developed for Adaptive Optics (AO) wavefront (WF) sensing to investigate the potential of this technology for low background space astronomy applications. After suppressing readout integrated circuit (ROIC) glow, we have placed upper limits on gain normalized dark current of 0.01 e-/sec at up to 8 volts avalanche bias, corresponding to avalanche gain of 5, and have operated with avalanche gains of up to several hundred at higher bias. We have also demonstrated detection of individual photon events. The proposed investigation would scale the format to 1536 x 1536 at 12um (the largest achievable in a standard reticule without requiring stitching) while incorporating reference pixels required at these low dark current levels. The primary objective is to develop, produce and characterize a 1.5k x 1.5k at 12um pitch MOVPE HgCdTe L-APD array, with nearly 30 times the pixel count of the 320 x 256 SAPHIRA, optimized for low background space astronomy. This will involve: 1) Selex design of a 1.5k x 1.5k at 12um pitch ROIC optimized for low background operation, silicon wafer fabrication at the German XFab foundry in 0.35 um 3V3 process and dicing/test at Selex, 2) provision by GL Scientific of a 3-side close-buttable carrier building from the heritage of the HAWAII xRG family, 3) Selex development and fabrication of 1.5k x 1.5k at 12 um pitch MOVPE HgCdTe L-APD detector arrays optimized for low background applications, 4) hybridization, packaging into a sensor chip assembly (SCA) with initial characterization by Selex and, 5) comprehensive characterization of low background performance, both in the laboratory and at ground based telescopes, by UH. The ultimate goal is to produce and eventually market a large format array, the L-APD equivalent of the Teledyne H1RG and H2RG, able to achieve sub-electron read noise and count 1 – 5 um photons with high quantum efficiency and low dark count rate while preserving their Poisson statistics and noise. More »

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