In the last decades, a very large effort has been made to measure, with high sensitivity, the intensity and spectral contents of millimetric (mm) and submillimetric (submm) light from the Universe. Today this picture is in the way to be routinely completed by polarization measurements that give access to previously hidden processes, for example the traces of primordial gravitational waves in the case of CMB (mainly mm), or the effect of magnetic field for star formation mechanisms (submm and mm optical ranges).
The classical way to measure the light polarization is to split the two components by a polarizer grid and record intensities with two conjugated detection setups. This approach implies the deployment of a complex instrument system, very sensitive to external constraints (vibrations, alinement, thermal expansion…), or internal ones: determine low degrees of polarization implies a large increase in sensitivity when compared with intensity measurements.
The need of detector arrays, with in pixel polarization measurement capabilities, has been well understood for years: all the complexity being reported at the focal plane level. Subsequently, the instrument integration, verification and tests procedure is considerately alleviated, specially for space applications.
All silicon bolometer arrays using the same micromachining techniques than the Herschel PACS modules are well suited for this type of development. New thermometers doped for 50 mK operations permit to achieve, with a new design, sensitivities close to the aW/√Hz. It is based on all-legs bolometers (ALB), where the absorbing, insulating and thermometric functions are made by the same suspended silicon structure. This ALB structure, with in this case a spiral design, permits to separate the absorption of the two electromagnetic components of the light polarization. Each pixel consists of four bolometer divided in two pairs, each sensitive to one direction of polarization. This permits to combine the bolometer bridges in a fully differential global structure with a Wheatstone bridge arrangement. Total intensity and polarization unbalance are available directly at the detector level, thanks to a cold readout circuit integrated in the detector structure. This combination of functions is achieved by above IC manufacture techniques (IC for Integrated Circuit).
All these developments take place in the prospect of the joint JAXA-ESA SPICA project, to equip a 1344 pixels polarimetric and imaging camera covering three spectral bands (100, 200 and 350 µm).
Louis R. Rodriguez, Albrecht Poglitsch, Abdelkader Aliane, Vincent Revéret, Olivier Gevin, Valérie Goudon, Sophie Bounissou, Obaïd-Allah Adami, Xavier de la Broïse, Jérôme Martignac, Cyrille Delisle, Jean-Luc Sauvageot, laurent Dussopt, and Hanan Thabet, "BRAHMS: polarimetric bolometer arrays for the SPICA observatory camera (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10708, Millimeter, Submillimeter, and Far-Infrared Detectors and Instrumentation for Astronomy IX, 107080W (Presented at SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation: June 14, 2018; Published: 10 July 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2312622.5807230694001.
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