Development of a photon-counting near-fano-limited x-ray CMOS image sensor for THESEUS' SXI

Heymes, Julian; Stefanov, Konstantin; Soman, Matthew; Gorret, Davide; Hall, David; Minoglou, Kyriaki; Morris, David; Pratlong, Jérôme; Prod'homme, Thibaut; Tsiolis, Georgios and Holland, Andrew (2020). Development of a photon-counting near-fano-limited x-ray CMOS image sensor for THESEUS' SXI. In: X-Ray, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy IX (Holland, Andrew and Beletic, James eds.), article no. 114540I.




THESEUS (Transient High Energy Sky & Early Universe Surveyor) is one of the three candidates for the M5 mission of the European Space Agency. The favoured mission will be announced in 2021 for an expected launch in 2032. THESEUS will be equipped with a Soft X-ray Imager (SXI) composed of a set of two telescopes using micro-pore optics offering an overall field of view of 0.5 sr (<2' accuracy) for X-ray energies between 300 eV and 5 keV. The focal plane of each SXI telescope has a 16 x 16 cm² cooled detector area. However, the limited radiator accommodation on the spacecraft prohibits the use of CCDs since cooling the focal planes to an optimal temperature for radiation hardness (<-100 °C) is not feasible. Therefore, the development of a suitable CMOS Image Sensor (CIS), capable of handling the expected levels of radiation at higher operating temperatures (approximately -30 °C) has been proposed. To demonstrate the performance required for the THESEUS SXI detector, a 2 x 2 cm² prototype is under development using Open University pixel designs in a Teledyne-e2v digital CMOS platform. The pixel design will allow full depletion over silicon thickness of 35 µm for optimal soft X-ray quantum efficiency and instrument background suppression, and will be capable of near-Fano-limited spectral resolution that will also be of prime interest for synchrotron and Free Electron Lasers (FEL) applications. In this paper, we will present the design considerations and simulations leading to the implemented structures complying with THESEUS' SXI requirements.

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