PEPPER is a high-speed differential Polarization-Encoded Photometer and Polarimeter developed in the Center
for Astronomical Adaptive Optics at the University of Arizona, Tucson, by Dr. Dan Potter and Matthew Graham.
PEPPER is capable of acting as a high-speed polarimeter by using electro-optical switching to chop between
standard star and target star, and between in and out-feature bandpass filter at frequencies fast enough to
suppress atmospheric variations. PEPPER is capable of either high-speed polarimetry or differential photometry
using a combination of simultaneous imaging and electro-optical switching. In the differential photometry mode,
PEPPER utilizes the electro-optical switching to calibrate instrumental and atmospheric photometric variation.
This technique coupled with a zero-read noise photon counting detector achieves photon noise limited results
demonstrated to an accuracy of less than 1 part in 105. Herein we present the design concept behind the
photometer and the polarimeter mode of PEPPER, as well as, results from observations in the differential
photometer mode at the Steward 90 inch telescope, at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, Arizona.
Results from the analysis of near IR polarimetry observations of young stars with circumstellar disks taken at
the Gemini North Telescope with the Hokupa'a adaptive optics system are also presented.
PEPPER, a high-speed differential Polarization-Encoded Photometer and Polarimeter, is designed to perform self-calibrated shot noise-limited photometry from the ground to directly detect the light from the phase changes of close-in extrasolar planets. This is accomplished by using high-speed electro-optical switching techniques coupled with zero-read noise photon counting detectors to eliminate errors due to sky and detector gain drift variability. Here we present the design concept behind the photometer mode of PEPPER as well as some initial results from lab and on-sky engineering tests of the prototype instrument. The polarimeter mode of the instrument is presented in a seperate paper.