We present the results of ongoing characterization of Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) semiconductors produced by Redlen Technologies. In particular we hope to determine their viability for future X-ray astronomy missions such as the High Energy X-ray Probe (HEX-P). The fully fabricated hybrid detectors consist of CZT crystals with a collecting area of 2 cm × 2 cm and thickness of 3 mm mounted on a custom pixelated ASIC originally designed for the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, which launched in 2012. We present the results of inter-pixel conductance and leakage current tests as well as spectral characterization using an 241Am source. Although further calibration and testing is necessary to determine the capabilities of these detectors, preliminary results indicate that Redlen CZT will be able to achieve spectral resolution and noise levels comparable to those of the CZT detectors currently in use aboard NuSTAR.
NuSTAR (the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope ARray) is a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission launched in June of 2012. Since its launch, NuSTAR has been the preeminent instrument for spectroscopic analysis of the hard X-ray sky over the 3-80 keV bandpass. The low energy side of the bandpass is limited by the absorption along the photon path as well as by the ability of the pixels to trigger on incident photons. The on-board calibration source does not have a low-energy line that we can use to calibrate this part of the response, so instead we use the "nearest-neighbor" readout in the NuSTAR detector architecture to calibrate the individual pixel thresholds for all 8 flight detectors on both focal plane modules (FPMs). These threshold measurements feed back into the quantum efficiency of the detectors at low (<5 keV) energies and, once well-calibrated, may allow the use of NuSTAR data below the current 3 keV limit.
We present the results of ongoing characterization of Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) semiconductors produced by Redlen Technologies for use in X-ray astronomy. The fully fabricated hybrid detectors consist of CZT crystals with a collecting area of 2 cm x 2 cm and thickness of 3mm mounted on a custom ASIC originally designed for the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, which launched in 2012. We present the results of electronic noise, inter-pixel conductance, and leakage current tests as well as spectral calibration using an 241Am source. Despite high electronic noise due to errors in fabrication, we are able to compare characteristics of the Redlen CZT detectors to those of the CZT detectors produced by eV Products aboard NuSTAR.
The High-Energy X-ray Probe (HEX-P) is a probe-class mission concept that will extend the reach of broadband (2-200 keV) X-ray observations, with 40 times the sensitivity of any previous mission in the 10-80 keV band and 10,000 times the sensitivity of any previous mission in the 80-200 keV band. HEX-P addresses key NASA science goals and is an important complement to ESA's L-class Athena mission. Working in coordination with Athena HEX-P will provide continuum measurements that are essential for interpreting Athena spectra. With angular resolution improved by more than an order of magnitude relative to NuSTAR, HEX-P will carry out an independent program aimed at addressing questions unique to the high energy X-ray band, such as the nature of the source that powers Active Galactic Nuclei, the evolution of black holes in obscured environments, and understanding of how compact binary systems form, evolve and influence galactic systems. With heritage from NuSTAR, HEX-P can be executed within the next decade with a budget less than double that of a Medium class Explorer (MIDEX) mission.
The High-Energy X-ray Probe (HEX-P) is a probe-class next-generation high-energy X-ray mission concept that will vastly extend the reach of broadband X-ray observations. Studying the 2-200 keV energy range, HEXP has 40 times the sensitivity of any previous mission in the 10-80 keV band, and will be the first focusing instrument in the 80-200 keV band. A successor to the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), a NASA Small Explorer launched in 2012, HEX-P addresses key NASA science objectives, and will serve as an important complement to ESA’s L-class Athena mission. HEX-P will utilize multilayer coated X-ray optics, and in this paper we present the details of the optical design, and discuss the multilayer prescriptions necessary for the reflection of hard X-ray photons. We consider multiple module designs with the aim of investigating the tradeoff between high- and low-energy effective area, and review the technology development necessary to reach that goal within the next decade.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope ARray (NuSTAR) has been in orbit for 6 years, and with the calibration data accumulated over that period we have taken a new look at the effective area calibration. The NuSTAR 10-m focal length is achieved using an extendible mast, which flexes due to solar illumination. This results in individual observations sampling a range of off-axis angles rather than a particular off-axis angle. In our new approach, we have split over 50 individual Crab observations into segments at particular off-axis angles. We combine segments from different observations at the same off-axis angle to generate a new set of synthetic spectra, which we use to calibrate the vignetting function of the optics against the canonical Crab spectrum.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) launched in June 2012, flies two conical approximation Wolter-I mirrors at the end of a 10.15-m mast. The optics are coated with multilayers of Pt/C and W/Si that operate from 3 to 80 keV. Since the optical path is not shrouded, aperture stops are used to limit the field of view (FoV) from background and sources outside the FoV. However, there is still a sliver of sky (∼1.0 deg to 4.0 deg) where photons may bypass the optics altogether and fall directly on the detector array. We term these photons stray light. Additionally, there are also photons that do not undergo the focused double reflections in the optics, and we term these ghost rays. We present detailed analysis and characterization of these two components and discuss how they impact observations. Finally, we discuss how they could have been prevented and should be in future observatories.
Wirebonds, although proven for space application and perceived necessary for hybrid sensors like CdZnTe (CZT) detectors, introduce assembly complexity and undesirable gaps between detector units. Thus, they pose a serious challenge in building a low cost large area detector. We are developing Through-Silicon Vias (TSVs) to make all connections (both power and data) through ASICs, which will eliminate wirebonds and enable simple direct flip-chip bonding between the ASIC and a substrate electronics layer. TSVs also enable a more compact layout of the ASIC, which reduces the inactive area of the detector plane, and thus enables nearly gaplessly tilable detector arrays. We demonstrate the first successful TSV implementation on ASICs used for CZT detectors onboard the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission as part of our program to develop large area CZT imagers for wide field coded aperture imaging.
Pixelated Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CdZnTe) detectors are currently flying on the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope ARray (NuSTAR) NASA Astrophysics Small Explorer. While the pixel pitch of the detectors is ≈ 605 μm, we can leverage the detector readout architecture to determine the interaction location of an individual photon to much higher spatial accuracy. The sub-pixel spatial location allows us to finely oversample the point spread function of the optics and reduces imaging artifacts due to pixelation. In this paper we demonstrate how the sub-pixel information is obtained, how the detectors were calibrated, and provide ground verification of the quantum efficiency of our Monte Carlo model of the detector response.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is the first focusing high energy (3-79 keV) X-ray observatory operating for four years from low Earth orbit. The X-ray detector arrays are located on the spacecraft bus with the optics modules mounted on a flexible mast of 10.14m length. The motion of the telescope optical axis on the detectors during each observation is measured by a laser metrology system and matches the pre-launch predictions of the thermal flexing of the mast as the spacecraft enters and exits the Earths shadow each orbit. However, an additional motion of the telescope field of view was discovered during observatory commissioning that is associated with the spacecraft attitude control system and an additional flexing of the mast correlated with the Solar aspect angle for the observation. We present the methodology developed to predict where any particular target coordinate will fall on the NuSTAR detectors based on the Solar aspect angle at the scheduled time of an observation. This may be applicable to future observatories that employ optics deployed on extendable masts. The automation of the prediction system has greatly improved observatory operations efficiency and the reliability of observation planning.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is the first focusing high energy (3-79 keV) X-ray observatory. The NuSTAR project is led by Caltech, which hosts the Science Operations Center (SOC), with mission operations managed by UCB Space Sciences Laboratory. We present an overview of NuSTAR science operations and describe the on-orbit performance of the observatory. The SOC is enhancing science operations to serve the community with a guest observing program beginning in 2015. We present some of the challenges and approaches taken by the SOC to operating a full service space observatory that maximizes the scientific return from the mission.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission was launched on 2012 June 13 and is the first focusing high-energy X-ray telescope in orbit operating above ~10 keV. NuSTAR flies two co-aligned Wolter-I conical approximation X-ray optics, coated with Pt/C and W/Si multilayers, and combined with a focal length of 10.14 meters this enables operation from 3-79 keV. The optics focus onto two focal plane arrays, each consisting of 4 CdZnTe pixel detectors, for a field of view of 12.5 arcminutes. The inherently low background associated with concentrating the X-ray light enables NuSTAR to probe the hard X-ray sky with a more than 100-fold improvement in sensitivity, and with an effective point spread function FWHM of 18 arcseconds (HPD ~1), NuSTAR provides a leap of improvement in resolution over the collimated or coded mask instruments that have operated in this bandpass. We present in-orbit performance details of the observatory and highlight important science results from the first two years of the mission.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite is a NASA Small Explorer mission designed to operate the first focusing high-energy X-ray (3-79 keV) telescope in orbit. Since the launch in June 2012, all the NuSTAR components have been working normally. The focal plane module is equipped with an 155Eu radioactive source to irradiate the CdZnTe pixel detectors for independent calibration separately from optics. The inflight spectral calibration of the CdZnTe detectors is performed with the onboard 155Eu source. The derived detector performance agrees well with ground-measured data. The in-orbit detector background rate is stable and the lowest among past high-energy X-ray instruments.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) will be the first space mission to focus in the hard X-ray
(5-80 keV) band. The NuSTAR instrument carries two co-aligned grazing incidence hard X-ray telescopes. Each
NuSTAR focal plane consists of four 2 mm CdZnTe hybrid pixel detectors, each with an active collecting area of
2 cm x 2 cm. Each hybrid consists of a 32x32 array of 605 μm pixels, read out with the Caltech custom low-noise
NuCIT ASIC. In order to characterize the spectral response of each pixel to the degree required to meet the
science calibration requirements, we have developed a model based on Geant4 together with the Shockley-Ramo
theorem customized to the NuSTAR hybrid design. This model combines a Monte Carlo of the X-ray interactions
with subsequent charge transport within the detector. The combination of this model and calibration data taken
using radioactive sources of 57Co, 155Eu and 241Am enables us to determine electron and hole mobility-lifetime
products for each pixel, and to compare actual to ideal performance expected for defect-free material.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) is a NASA Small Explorer mission that will carry the first focusing hard X-ray (6 - 80 keV) telescope to orbit. NuSTAR will offer a factor 50 - 100 sensitivity improvement compared to previous collimated or coded mask imagers that have operated in this energy band. In addition, NuSTAR provides sub-arcminute imaging with good spectral resolution over a 12-arcminute eld of view. After
launch, NuSTAR will carry out a two-year primary science mission that focuses on four key programs: studying the evolution of massive black holes through surveys carried out in fields with excellent multiwavelength coverage, understanding the population of compact objects and the nature of the massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, constraining the explosion dynamics and nucleosynthesis in supernovae, and probing the nature of particle acceleration in relativistic jets in active galactic nuclei. A number of additional observations will be included in the primary mission, and a guest observer program will be proposed for an extended mission to expand the range of scientic targets. The payload consists of two co-aligned depth-graded multilayer coated grazing incidence optics focused onto a solid state CdZnTe pixel detectors. To be launched in early 2012 on a Pegasus rocket into a low-inclination Earth orbit, NuSTAR largely avoids SAA passage, and will therefore have low and
stable detector backgrounds. The telescope achieves a 10.14-meter focal length through on-orbit deployment of an extendable mast. An aspect and alignment metrology system enable reconstruction of the absolute aspect and variations in the telescope alignment resulting from mast exure during ground data processing. Data will
be publicly available at GSFC's High Energy Archive Research Center (HEASARC) following validation at the science operations center located at Caltech.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), scheduled for launch in 2011, is a NASA Small Explorer
mission that will improve the current sensitivity for detection of faint astrophysical sources in the 6-80 keV band by two
orders of magnitude. NuSTAR achieves high sensitivity by utilizing a hard X-ray focusing system. We have developed
Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CdZnTe) pixel detectors optimized for good energy for the NuSTAR focal plane. Each of
NuSTAR's two focal planes is comprised of hybrid detectors that consist of a CdZnTe pixel sensor with the anode
contacts directly attached to corresponding readout circuits integrated on a custom low-noise VLSI chip. Each hybrid is
20.5 x 20.5 x 2.0 mm in size with the anode divided into 32 x 32 array of pixels at 0.6048 mm. In this paper we
describe the hybrid sensor architecture, and present preliminary results from the characterization of detectors fabricated
for the NuSTAR focal plane Engineering Test Unit (ETU). We achieve excellent electronic readout noise with an
average of 250 eV FWHM, and energy resolution between 0.9 and 1.6 keV FWHM at 86.5 keV, depending on position
in the sensor and improving at lower energies. In order to achieve the best spectral resolution we need to make pixeldependent
corrections for events with charge split among multiple pixels, and in addition we make spectral corrections
based on depth of the gamma-ray interaction.
We are developing imaging Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) pixel detectors optimized for astrophysical hard X-ray
applications. Our hybrid detector consist of a CdTe crystal 1mm thick and 2cm × 2cm in area with segmented
anode contacts directly bonded to a custom low-noise application specific integrated circuit (ASIC). The CdTe
sensor, fabricated by ACRORAD (Okinawa, Japan), has Schottky blocking contacts on a 605 micron pitch in a
32 × 32 array, providing low leakage current and enabling readout of the anode side. The detector is bonded
using epoxy-gold stud interconnects to a custom low noise, low power ASIC circuit developed by Caltech's
Space Radiation Laboratory. We have achieved very good energy resolution over a wide energy range (0.62keV
FWHM @ 60keV, 10.8keV FWHM @ 662keV). We observe polarization effects at room temperature, but they
are suppressed if we operate the detector at or below 0°C degree. These detectors have potential application for
future missions such as the International X-ray Observatory (IXO).
We present a performance study of a cosmic X-ray polarimeter which is
based on the photoelectric effect in gas, and sensitive to a few to 30
keV range. In our polarimeter, the key device would be the 50 μm
pitch Gas Electron Multiplier (GEM). We have evaluated the modulation
factor using highly polarized X-ray, provided by a synchrotron
accelerator. In the analysis, we selected events by the eccentricity of the charge cloud of the photoelectron track. As a result, we obtained the relationship between the selection criteria for the eccentricity and the modulation factors; for example, when we selected the events which
have their eccentricity of > 0.95, the polarimeter exhibited with
the modulation factor of 0.32. In addition, we estimated the Minimum
Detectable Polarization degree (MDP) of Crab Nebula with our
polarimeter and found 10 ksec observation is enough to detect the
polarization, if we adopt suitable X-ray mirrors.
We have produced various gas electron multiplier foils (GEMs) by using laser etching technique for cosmic X-ray polarimeters. The finest structure GEM we have fabricated has 30 μm-diameter holes on a 50 μm-pitch. The effective gain of the GEM reaches around 5000 at the voltage of 570 V between electrodes. The gain is slightly higher than that of the CERN standard GEM with 70 μm-diameter holes on a 140 μm-pitch. We have fabricated GEMs with thickness of 100 μm which has two times thicker than the standard GEM. The effective gain of the thick-foil GEM is 104 at the applied voltage of 350 V per 50 μm of thickness. The gain is about two orders higher than that of the standard GEM. The remarkable characteristic of the thick-foil GEM is that the effective gain at the beginning of micro-discharge is quite improved. For fabricating the thick-foil GEMs, we have employed new material, liquid crystal polymer (LCP) which has little moisture absorption rate, as an insulator layer instead of polyimide. One of the thick-foil GEM we have fabricated has 8 μm copper layer in the middle of the 100 μm-thick insulator layer. The metal layer in the middle of the foil works as a field-shaper in the multiplication channels, though it slightly decreases the effective gain.