Cryogenic irradiation of an EMCCD for the WFIRST coronagraph: preliminary performance analysis

Bush, Nathan; Hall, David; Holland, Andrew; Burgon, Ross; Murray, Neil; Gow, Jason; Jordan, Douglas; Demers, Richard; Harding, Leon K.; Nemati, Bijan; Hoenk, Michael; Michaels, Darren and Peddada, Pavani (2016). Cryogenic irradiation of an EMCCD for the WFIRST coronagraph: preliminary performance analysis. In: High Energy, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy VII, Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), article no. 99150A.



The Wide Field Infra-Red Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is a NASA observatory scheduled to launch in the next decade that will settle essential questions in exoplanet science. The Wide Field Instrument (WFI) offers Hubble quality imaging over a 0.28 square degree field of view and will gather NIR statistical data on exoplanets through gravitational microlensing. An on-board coronagraph will for the first time perform direct imaging and spectroscopic analysis of exoplanets with properties analogous to those within our own solar system, including cold Jupiters, mini Neptunes and potentially super Earths.

The Coronagraph Instrument (CGI) will be required to operate with low signal flux for long integration times, demanding all noise sources are kept to a minimum. The Electron Multiplication (EM)-CCD has been baselined for both the imaging and spectrograph cameras due its ability to operate with sub-electron effective read noise values with appropriate multiplication gain setting. The presence of other noise sources, however, such as thermal dark signal and Clock Induced Charge (CIC), need to be characterized and mitigated. In addition, operation within a space environment will subject the device to radiation damage that will degrade the Charge Transfer Effciency (CTE) of the device throughout the mission lifetime. Irradiation at the nominal instrument operating temperature has the potential to provide the best estimate of performance degradation that will be experienced in-flight, since the final population of silicon defects has been shown to be dependent upon the temperature at which the sensor is irradiated.

Here we present initial findings from pre- and post- cryogenic irradiation testing of the e2v CCD201-20 BI EMCCD sensor, baselined for the WFIRST coronagraph instrument. The motivation for irradiation at cryogenic temperatures is discussed with reference to previous investigations of a similar nature. The results are presented in context with those from a previous room temperature irradiation investigation that was performed on a CCD201-20 operated under the same conditions. A key conclusion is that the measured performance degradation for a given proton fluence is seen to measurably differ for the cryogenic case compared to the room temperature equivalent for the conditions of this study.

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