11 July 2016 Gain drift compensation with no-feedback-loop developed for the X-IFU/ATHENA readout chain
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The focal plane of the X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) instrument of the Athena observatory is composed of about 4000 micro-calorimeters. These sensors, based on superconducting Transition Edge Sensors, are read out through a frequency multiplexer and a base-band feedback to linearize SQUIDs. However, the loop gain of this feedback is lower than 10 in the modulated TES signal bandwidth, which is not enough to fix the gain of the full readout chain. Calibration of the instrument is planned to be done at a time scale larger than a dozen minutes and the challenging energy resolution goal of 2.5 eV at 6 keV will probably require a gain stability larger than 10-4 over a long duration. A large part of this gain is provided by a Low-Noise Amplifier (LNA) in the Warm Front-End Electronics (WFEE). To reach such gain stability over more than a dozen minutes, this non-cooled amplifier has to cope with the temperature and supply voltage variations. Moreover, mainly for noise reasons, common large loop gain with feedback can not be used. We propose a new amplifier topology using diodes as loads of a differential amplifier to provide a fixed voltage gain, independent of the temperature and of the bias fluctuations. This amplifier is designed using a 350 nm SiGe BiCMOS technology and is part of an integrated circuit developed for the WFEE. Our simulations provide the expected gain drift and noise performances of such structure. Comparison with standard resistive loaded differential pair clearly shows the advantages of the proposed amplifier topology with a gain drift decreasing by more than an order of magnitude. Performances of this diode loaded amplifier are discussed in the context of the X-IFU requirements.
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D. Prêle, F. Voisin, C. Beillimaz, S. Chen, A. Goldwurm, "Gain drift compensation with no-feedback-loop developed for the X-IFU/ATHENA readout chain", Proc. SPIE 9905, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray, 99055U (11 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2232357; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2232357

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