The Impact of Radiation Damage on Electron Multiplying CCD Technology for the WFIRST Coronagraph

Bush, Nathan L. (2018). The Impact of Radiation Damage on Electron Multiplying CCD Technology for the WFIRST Coronagraph. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis follows an investigation into the effects of radiation damage on the e2v CCD201-20; the detector baselined for use in the WFIRST coronagraph imaging and spectroscopy camera systems (hereafter, WFIRST CGI). The CCD201 is an EM-CCD, a variant of traditional CCD technology that is well suited for operation in light starved conditions. Despite successful implementation on many ground-based instruments, the technology has yet to be used within a space environment and therefore has low technological maturity compared to the standard CCD counterpart. Improvement of the technological maturity rested upon in-depth investigations into the effect of radiation damage on the CCD201, which in turn could be used to estimate the End Of Life (EOL) performance of the instrument and de-risk the utilisation of EM-CCDs for the mission. An in-depth radiation campaign was completed whereby multiple CCD201s were irradiated to multiple fluence levels at both room temperature and the nominal operating temperature of the mission (165 K). Performance was measured prior to and following each irradiation, including measurements of low-signal Charge Transfer Inefficiency (CTI), dark current and Clock Induced Charge (CIC). Significant performance differences were noted between the room temperature and cryogenic irradiation case, indicating that cryogenic irradiations are instrumental to accurate EOL performance estimates. CTI was identified as the key limitation to CGI science performance, and so attention then turned to amelioration strategies focused on improving performance in the presence of radiation damage, including trap pumping and narrow-channel modelling. The results presented in this thesis have helped lead to the adoption of the CCD201-20 for the WFIRST mission, have provided key insight into the differences between room temperature and cryogenic irradiations, have advanced the “trap pumping” technique for use on EM-CCDs and presented the properties on the dominant traps that impact CTI for radiation damaged CCDs. The findings are not only useful for the WFIRST CGI, but for any future space mission that will utilise EM-CCD technology in an environment where radiation has the potential to degrade science performance.

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