Technical Development
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Next Generation UV Instrument Technologies

Campus PI: Chris Martin
JPL PI: Shouleh Nikzad
Co-Investigators: Patrick Morrissey (Caltech) and David Schiminovich (Columbia U co-PI)

2015 Progress Update (1.5 MB pdf)

Our objective is the development of a high-efficiency, low-noise photon-counting UV detector (Solid-state Photon-counting UV Detector, or SPUD). SPUD enables breakthrough UV capabilities in future UV spectroscopic and imaging missions. One of the principal objectives of these missions will be UV spectroscopy of the IGM in absorption and emission. A factor of 10-20 improvement in detector efficiency corresponds to a 3-4.5-fold reduction in telescope size for the same mission performance. Using a conservative scaling a 4-6 m aperture combined with Gen-1 UV detectors would cost $2.5-5B, while a 1.4m UV spectroscopy mission using the NEXUS detector and equivalent total efficiency would cost only ~$500M and qualify as a probe mission.

Next Generation Single Photon counting UV Detectors (SPUDs)

One of our study’s principal conclusions was that UV detector performance drives every aspect of the scientific capability of future missions, and that two technologies were at the tipping point for major breakthroughs. This work focuses on one of those technologies - combining photon counting CCD technology with the JPL delta doping technology and custom ALD deposited AR coatings, which we refer to as the Solid State Single Photon Counting UV Detector, or SPUD.  These have demonstrated high QE (>50% over 120-300 nm) and appear to have the highest QE potential (>80% with multilayer AR coatings), along with low background (<0.3 ct-cm-2-s-1). Additional advantages of the SPUD are the low voltage operation, reliability of solid state vs. image tube, and more importantly the scalability of the technology for very large focal plane arrays (FPAs).

This technology will provide UV spectroscopic detectors >50% quantum efficiency that will enable future Explorer, Probe, and Flagship missions. Most critically, improving SPUD detector performance requires a fundamental understanding of the nanoscale device physics; this can only be gained with the  experimental work and quantitative measurements undertaken in this work.

For questions contact: Christopher Martin, Shouleh Nikzad, David Schiminovich or Michele Judd


Christopher Martin

Study Co-Lead Christopher Martin from Caltech.

Shouleh Nikzad

Study Co-Lead Shouleh Nikzad from JPL.

David Schiminovich

Study Co-Lead David Schiminovich from Columbia University.