23 July 2014 Characterization of a photon counting EMCCD for space-based high contrast imaging spectroscopy of extrasolar planets
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We present the progress of characterization of a low-noise, photon counting Electron Multiplying Charged Coupled Device (EMCCD) operating in optical wavelengths and demonstrate possible solutions to the problems of Clock-Induced Charge (CIC) and other trapped charge through sub-bandgap illumination. Such a detector will be vital to the feasibility of future space-based direct imaging and spectroscopy missions for exoplanet characterization, and is scheduled to y on-board the AFTA-WFIRST mission. The 512×512 EMCCD is an e2v detector housed and clocked by a Nüvü Cameras controller. Through a multiplication gain register, this detector produces as many as 5000 electrons for a single, incident-photon-induced photoelectron produced in the detector, enabling single photon counting operation with read noise and dark current orders of magnitude below that of standard CCDs. With the extremely high contrasts (Earth-to-Sun flux ratio is ~ 10-10) and extremely faint targets (an Earth analog would measure 28th - 30th magnitude or fainter), a photon-counting EMCCD is absolutely necessary to measure the signatures of habitability on an Earth-like exoplanet within the timescale of a mission's lifetime, and we discuss the concept of operations for an EMCCD making such measurements.
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Ashlee N. Wilkins, Ashlee N. Wilkins, Michael W. McElwain, Michael W. McElwain, Timothy J. Norton, Timothy J. Norton, Bernie J. Rauscher, Bernie J. Rauscher, Johannes F. Rothe, Johannes F. Rothe, Michael Malatesta, Michael Malatesta, George M. Hilton, George M. Hilton, James R. Bubeck, James R. Bubeck, Carol A. Grady, Carol A. Grady, Don J. Lindler, Don J. Lindler, "Characterization of a photon counting EMCCD for space-based high contrast imaging spectroscopy of extrasolar planets", Proc. SPIE 9154, High Energy, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy VI, 91540C (23 July 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2055346; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2055346

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