High-resolution soft x-ray spectrometry using the electron-multiplying charge-coupled device (EM-CCD)

Hall, David J.; Tutt, James H.; Soman, Matthew; Holland, Andrew D.; Murray, Neil J.; Schmitt, Bernd and Schmitt, Thorsten (2013). High-resolution soft x-ray spectrometry using the electron-multiplying charge-coupled device (EM-CCD). In: UV, X-Ray, and Gamma-Ray Space Instrumentation for Astronomy XVIII, SPIE, article no. 8859 0H.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2024010


The Electron-Multiplying Charge-Coupled Device (EM-CCD) shares a similar structure to the CCD except for the inclusion of a gain register that multiplies signal before the addition of read-noise, offering sub-electron effective readnoise at high frame-rates. EM-CCDs were proposed for the dispersive spectrometer on the International X-ray Observatory (IXO) to bring sub-300 eV X-rays above the noise, increasing the science yield. The high-speed, low-noise performance of the EMCCD brought added advantages of reduced dark current and stray-light per frame, reducing cooling and filtering requirements. To increase grating efficiency, several diffracted spectral orders were co-located so the inherent energy resolution of the detector was required for order separation. Although the spectral resolution of the EM-CCD is degraded by the gain process, it was shown that the EM-CCD could achieve the required separation. The RIXS spectrometer at the Advanced Resonant Spectroscopy beamline (ADRESS) of the Swiss Light Source (SLS) at the Paul Scherrer Institute currently uses a CCD, with charge spreading between pixels limiting the spatial resolution to 24 μm (FWHM). Through improving the spatial resolution below 5 μm alongside upgrading the grating, a factor of two energy resolution improvement could theoretically be made. With the high-speed, low-noise performance of the EM-CCD, photon-counting modes could allow the use of centroiding techniques to improve the resolution. Using various centroiding techniques, a spatial resolution of 2 μm (FWHM) has been achieved experimentally, demonstrating the benefits of this detector technology for soft X-ray spectrometry. This paper summarises the use of EM-CCDs from our first investigations for IXO through to our latest developments in ground-based testing for synchrotron-research and looks beyond to future possibilities.

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