23 July 2014 Monolithic CMOS imaging x-ray spectrometers
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Abstract
The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in collaboration with SRI/Sarnoff is developing monolithic CMOS detectors optimized for x-ray astronomy. The goal of this multi-year program is to produce CMOS x-ray imaging spectrometers that are Fano noise limited over the 0.1-10keV energy band while incorporating the many benefits of CMOS technology. These benefits include: low power consumption, radiation “hardness”, high levels of integration, and very high read rates. Small format test devices from a previous wafer fabrication run (2011-2012) have recently been back-thinned and tested for response below 1keV. These devices perform as expected in regards to dark current, read noise, spectral response and Quantum Efficiency (QE). We demonstrate that running these devices at rates ~> 1Mpix/second eliminates the need for cooling as shot noise from any dark current is greatly mitigated. The test devices were fabricated on 15μm, high resistivity custom (~30kΩ-cm) epitaxial silicon and have a 16 by 192 pixel format. They incorporate 16μm pitch, 6 Transistor Pinned Photo Diode (6TPPD) pixels which have ~40μV/electron sensitivity and a highly parallel analog CDS signal chain. Newer, improved, lower noise detectors have just been fabricated (October 2013). These new detectors are fabricated on 9μm epitaxial silicon and have a 1k by 1k format. They incorporate similar 16μm pitch, 6TPPD pixels but have ~ 50% higher sensitivity and much (3×) lower read noise. These new detectors have undergone preliminary testing for functionality in Front Illuminated (FI) form and are presently being prepared for back thinning and packaging. Monolithic CMOS devices such as these, would be ideal candidate detectors for the focal planes of Solar, planetary and other space-borne x-ray astronomy missions. The high through-put, low noise and excellent low energy response, provide high dynamic range and good time resolution; bright, time varying x-ray features could be temporally and spectrally resolved without saturation. We present details of our camera design and device performance with particular emphasis on those aspects of interest to single photon counting x-ray astronomy. These features include read noise, x-ray spectral response and quantum efficiency. Funding for this work has been provided in large part by NASA Grant NNX09AE86G and a grant from the Betty and Gordon Moore Foundation.
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Almus Kenter, Ralph Kraft, Thomas Gauron, Stephen S. Murray, "Monolithic CMOS imaging x-ray spectrometers", Proc. SPIE 9154, High Energy, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy VI, 91540J (23 July 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2054656; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2054656
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