Challenges in photon-starved space astronomy in a harsh radiation environment using CCDs

Hall, David J.; Bush, Nathan; Murray, Neil; Gow, Jason; Clarke, Andrew; Burgon, Ross and Holland, Andrew (2015). Challenges in photon-starved space astronomy in a harsh radiation environment using CCDs. In: Proceedings of SPIE, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), 9602, article no. 96020U.



The Charge Coupled Device (CCD) has a long heritage for imaging and spectroscopy in many space astronomy missions. However, the harsh radiation environment experienced in orbit creates defects in the silicon that capture the signal being transferred through the CCD. This radiation damage has a detrimental impact on the detector performance and requires carefully planned mitigation strategies. The ESA Gaia mission uses 106 CCDs, now orbiting around the second Lagrange point as part of the largest focal-plane ever launched. Following readout, signal electrons will be affected by the traps generated in the devices from the radiation environment and this degradation will be corrected for using a charge distortion model. ESA’s Euclid mission will contain a focal plane of 36 CCDs in the VIS instrument. Moving further forwards, the World Space Observatory (WSO) UV spectrographs and the WFIRST-AFTA coronagraph intend to look at very faint sources in which mitigating the impact of traps on the transfer of single electron signals will be of great interest. Following the development of novel experimental and analysis techniques, one is now able to study the impact of radiation on the detector to new levels of detail. Through a combination of TCAD simulations, defect studies and device testing, we are now probing the interaction of single electrons with individual radiation-induced traps to analyse the impact of radiation in photon-starved applications. © (2015) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.

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