A Revolutionary New Camera for Astronomers

A Revolutionary New Camera for Astronomers

ERPE has developed a low temperature 5,120 pixel astronomical detector for a sub-millimetre camera operating at wavelengths of 450 and 850 microns. The SCUBA-2 camera, installed on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, scans the sky an unprecedented 200 times faster than its predecessor.

The SCUBA-2 detector provides the first large-format "CCD-like" camera for sub-millimetre astronomy. These astronomical detectors were micromachined in the Scottish Microelectronics Centre in Edinburgh. ERPE research enabled the fabrication of this highly novel detector array [1 - 3] which is far more sensitive and powerful than previous instruments.

ERPE researchers proposed by that the micromachining should be performed as the final process step providing, at a stroke, the solution to bump bonding the detector and SQUID wafers together before deep etching to create the silicon bricks/membranes avoiding the handling fragile wafers with a delicate membrane, while removing the requirement for waffle walls and improving the detector performance.

Since November, 2012 SCUBA-2 has been conducting legacy surveys to produce the first detailed atlas of the sub-millimetre sky as observed from Hawaii. This involves a team of 300 astronomers producing maps searching for as yet undiscovered rare galaxies. A futher survey is examining the cold dust around nearby stars in the Milky Way. The scientific results from SCUBA-2 thus have significant impact in cosmology, star formation, and proto-planetary systems.

The Director of UK Astronomical Technology Centre (UK ATC) said: “The SCUBA-2 detector arrays, represent a world-first and the technological challenges in fabricating them have been absolutely immense. It is equivalent to going from a primitive wind-on film camera straight to a modern digital camera all in one step.”

[1] A J Walton, et. al; "Prototype Detector Technology for the SCUBA-2 Sub-millimetre Bolometer Array", Journal of Nanoengineering and Nanosystems: Proceedings Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part N, Vol. 219, pp. 11-21, 2005. DOI:10.1243/174034905X77337

[2] A J Walton, et. al; "Design and fabrication of the detector technology for SCUBA-2", IEE Proceedings on Science, Measurement and Technology, Vol. 151, No. 2, pp. 110-120, 2004. DOI:10.1049/ip-smt:20040088

[3] A L Woodcraft, et. al; "Electrical and optical measurements on the first SCUBA-2 prototype 1280 pixel submillimetre superconducting bolometer array", Review Scientific Instrumentation, Vol. 78, No. 2, p 024502, 2007. DOI:10.1063/1.2436839

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Monday, 5 May, 2014 - 13:03