The SPT-3G receiver was commissioned in early 2017 on the 10-meter South Pole Telescope (SPT) to map anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). New optics, detector, and readout technologies have yielded a multichroic, high-resolution, low-noise camera with impressive throughput and sensitivity, offering the potential to improve our understanding of inflationary physics, astroparticle physics, and growth of structure. We highlight several key features and design principles of the new receiver, and summarize its performance to date.
The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a millimeter-wavelength telescope designed for high-precision measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The SPT measures both the temperature and polarization of the CMB with a large aperture, resulting in high resolution maps sensitive to signals across a wide range of angular scales on the sky. With these data, the SPT has the potential to make a broad range of cosmological measurements. These include constraining the effect of massive neutrinos on large-scale structure formation as well as cleaning galactic and cosmological foregrounds from CMB polarization data in future searches for inflationary gravitational waves. The SPT began observing in January 2017 with a new receiver (SPT-3G) containing ~16,000 polarization-sensitive transition-edge sensor bolometers. Several key technology developments have enabled this large-format focal plane, including advances in detectors, readout electronics, and large millimeter-wavelength optics. We discuss the implementation of these technologies in the SPT-3G receiver as well as the challenges they presented. In late 2017 the implementations of all three of these technologies were modified to optimize total performance. Here, we present the current instrument status of the SPT-3G receiver.
The third-generation instrument for the 10-meter South Pole Telescope, SPT-3G, was first installed in January 2017. In addition to completely new cryostats, secondary telescope optics, and readout electronics, the number of detectors in the focal plane has increased by an order of magnitude from previous instruments to ~16,000. The SPT-3G focal plane consists of ten detector modules, each with an array of 269 trichroic, polarization-sensitive pixels on a six-inch silicon wafer. Within each pixel is a broadband, dual-polarization sinuous antenna; the signal from each orthogonal linear polarization is divided into three frequency bands centered at 95, 150, and 220 GHz by in-line lumped element filters and transmitted via superconducting microstrip to Ti/Au transition-edge sensor (TES) bolometers. Properties of the TES film, microstrip filters, and bolometer island must be tightly controlled to achieve optimal performance. For the second year of SPT-3G operation, we have replaced all ten wafers in the focal plane with new detector arrays tuned to increase mapping speed and improve overall performance. Here we discuss the TES superconducting transition temperature and normal resistance, detector saturation power, bandpasses, optical efficiency, and full array yield for the 2018 focal plane.
The desire for higher sensitivity has driven ground-based cosmic microwave background (CMB) experiments to employ ever larger focal planes, which in turn require larger reimaging optics. Practical limits to the maximum size of these optics motivates the development of quasi-optically-coupled (lenslet-coupled), multi-chroic detectors. These detectors can be sensitive across a broader bandwidth compared to waveguide-coupled detectors. However, the increase in bandwidth comes at a cost: the lenses (up to ~700 mm diameter) and lenslets (~5 mm diameter, hemispherical lenses on the focal plane) used in these systems are made from high-refractive-index materials (such as silicon or amorphous aluminum oxide) that reflect nearly a third of the incident radiation. In order to maximize the faint CMB signal that reaches the detectors, the lenses and lenslets must be coated with an anti-reflective (AR) material. The AR coating must maximize radiation transmission in scientifically interesting bands and be cryogenically stable. Such a coating was developed for the third generation camera, SPT-3G, of the South Pole Telescope (SPT) experiment, but the materials and techniques used in the development are general to AR coatings for mm-wave optics. The three-layer polytetra uoroethylene-based AR coating is broadband, inexpensive, and can be manufactured with simple tools. The coating is field tested; AR coated focal plane elements were deployed in the 2016-2017 austral summer and AR coated reimaging optics were deployed in 2017-2018.
With photon-noise dominated detectors, CMB experiments become more sensitive only by increasing detector count. Current experiments have on the order of 10,000 detectors, and future experiments propose 5-50x that figure. Reading out these large focal planes requires superconducting multiplexing technology. One concern with this technology is its potential to inject false signal into data via magnetic fields. We investigate magnetic field effects and potential shielding solutions within the context of readout electronics made for the South Pole Telescope's SPT-3G camera.
We explore two magnetic shielding technologies: high-μ metals and superconducting shielding. The high-μ shield is a box made of Amuneal A4K, an alloy designed for high permeability at cryogenic temperatures. The box geometry is a half cylinder to allow for simultaneous testing of shielded and unshielded readout electronics. The superconducting shielding is a NbN-coated cover installed around a superconducting filter network. We saw no attenuation of coupling to the applied external field with the A4K box, and the NbN shield amplifies this coupling in its current implementation. We found the A4K box is effective at isolating some coupling to magnetic fields inherent to the readout electronics. Further testing is needed to differentiate neighboring-SQUID effects from other intermodule coupling before evaluating the NbN shield's crosstalk isolation capability.
The third generation receiver for the South Pole Telescope, SPT-3G, will make extremely deep, arcminuteresolution maps of the temperature and polarization of the cosmic microwave background. The SPT-3G maps will enable studies of the B-mode polarization signature, constraining primordial gravitational waves as well as the effect of massive neutrinos on structure formation in the late universe. The SPT-3G receiver will achieve exceptional sensitivity through a focal plane of ~16,000 transition-edge sensor bolometers, an order of magnitude more than the current SPTpol receiver. SPT-3G uses a frequency domain multiplexing (fMux) scheme to read out the focal plane, combining the signals from 64 bolometers onto a single pair of wires. The fMux readout facilitates the large number of detectors in the SPT-3G focal plane by limiting the thermal load due to readout wiring on the 250 millikelvin cryogenic stage. A second advantage of the fMux system is that the operation of each bolometer can be optimized. In addition to these benefits, the fMux readout introduces new challenges into the design and operation of the receiver. The bolometers are operated at a range of frequencies up to 5 MHz, requiring control of stray reactances over a large bandwidth. Additionally, crosstalk between multiplexed detectors will inject large false signals into the data if not adequately mitigated. SPT-3G is scheduled to deploy to the South Pole Telescope in late 2016. Here, we present the pre-deployment performance of the fMux readout system with the SPT-3G focal plane.