Mapping radiation-induced defects in CCDs through space and time

Hall, David; Wood, Daniel; Bush, Nathan; Murray, Neil; Gow, Jason; Skottfelt, Jesper and Holland, Andrew (2016). Mapping radiation-induced defects in CCDs through space and time. In: High Energy, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy VII, SPIE Digital Library, article no. 99150I.



The Charge Coupled Device (CCD) has long been the detector of choice for many space-based applications. The CCD converts the signal X-rays or visible light into electrons (n-channel devices) or holes (p-channel devices) which are stored in the pixel structure during integration until the subsequent transfer of the charge packets through the device to be read out. The transfer of this signal charge is, however, not a perfect process.

Throughout the lifetime of a space-based mission the detector will be bombarded by high-energy particles and gamma rays. As time progresses, the radiation will damage the detectors, causing the Charge Transfer Efficiency (CTE) to decrease due to the creation of defects or “traps” in the silicon lattice of the detector. The defects create additional energy levels between the valence and conduction band in the silicon of the detector. Electrons or holes (for n-channel or p-channel devices respectively) that pass over the defect sites may be trapped. The trapped electrons or holes will later be emitted from the traps, subject to an emission-time constant related to the energy level of the associated defect. The capture and emission of charge from the signal leads to a characteristic trailing or “smearing” of images that must be corrected to enable the science goals of a mission to be met.

Over the past few years, great strides have been taken in the development of the pocket-pumping (or strictly-speaking “trap pumping”) technique. This technique not only allows individual defects (or traps) within the device to be located to the sub-pixel level, but it enables the investigation of the trap parameters such as the emission time constant to new levels of accuracy. Recent publications have shown the power of this technique in characterising a variety of different defects in both n- and p-channel devices and the potential for use in correction techniques, however, we are now exploring not only the trap locations and properties but the life cycle of these traps through time after irradiation. In orbit, most devices will be operating cold to suppress dark current and the devices are therefore cold whilst undergoing damage from the radiation environment. The mobility of defects varies as a function of temperature such that the mix of defects present following a cryogenic irradiation may vary significantly from that found following a room temperature irradiation or after annealing. It is therefore essential to study the trap formation and migration in orbit-like conditions and over longer timescales.

In this paper we present a selection of the latest methods and results in the trap pumping of n- and p-channel devices and demonstrate how this technique now allows us to map radiation-induced defects in CCDs through both space and time. © (2016) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.

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