13 September 2012 Silicon immersion gratings and their spectroscopic applications
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Silicon immersion gratings (SIGs) offer several advantages over the commercial echelle gratings for high resolution infrared (IR) spectroscopy: 3.4 times the gain in dispersion or ~10 times the reduction in the instrument volume, a multiplex gain for a large continuous wavelength coverage and low cost. We present results from lab characterization of a large format SIG of astronomical observation quality. This SIG, with a 54.74 degree blaze angle (R1.4), 16.1 l/mm groove density, and 50x86 mm2 grating area, was developed for high resolution IR spectroscopy (R~70,000) in the near IR (1.1-2.5 μm). Its entrance surface was coated with a single layer of silicon nitride antireflection (AR) coating and its grating surface was coated with a thin layer of gold to increase its throughput at 1.1-2.5 m. The lab measurements have shown that the SIG delivered a spectral resolution of R=114,000 at 1.55 m with a lab testing spectrograph with a 20 mm diameter pupil. The measured peak grating efficiency is 72% at 1.55 m, which is consistent with the measurements in the optical wavelengths from the grating surface at the air side. This SIG is being implemented in a new generation cryogenic IR spectrograph, called the Florida IR Silicon immersion grating spectrometer (FIRST), to offer broad-band high resolution IR spectroscopy with R=72,000 at 1.4-1.8 um under a typical seeing condition in a single exposure with a 2kx2k H2RG IR array at the robotically controlled Tennessee State University 2-meter Automatic Spectroscopic Telescope (AST) at Fairborn Observatory in Arizona. FIRST is designed to provide high precision Doppler measurements (~4 m/s) for the identification and characterization of extrasolar planets, especially rocky planets in habitable zones, orbiting low mass M dwarf stars. It will also be used for other high resolution IR spectroscopic observations of such as young stars, brown dwarfs, magnetic fields, star formation and interstellar mediums. An optimally designed SIG of the similar size can be used in the Silicon Immersion Grating Spectrometer (SIGS) to fill the need for high resolution spectroscopy at mid IR to far IR (~25-300 μm) for the NASA SOFIA airborne mission in the future.
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Jian Ge, Bo Zhao, Scott Powell, Adam Fletcher, Xiaoke Wan, Liang Chang, Hali Jakeman, Dimitrios Koukis, David B. Tanner, Dennis Ebbets, Jonathan Weinberg, Sarah Lipscy, Rich Nyquist, John Bally, "Silicon immersion gratings and their spectroscopic applications", Proc. SPIE 8450, Modern Technologies in Space- and Ground-based Telescopes and Instrumentation II, 84502U (13 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.925803; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.925803

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