The ICF program at Livermore has a large inventory of optical streak cameras that were built in the 1970s and 1980s. The cameras include microchannel plate image-intensifier tubes (IIT) that provide signal amplification and early lenscoupled CCD readouts. Today, these cameras are still very functional, but some replacement parts such as the original streak tube, CCD, and IIT are scarce and obsolete. This article describes recent efforts to improve the performance of these cameras using today’s advanced CCD readout technologies. Very sensitive, large-format CCD arrays with efficient fiber-optic input faceplates are now available for direct coupling with the streak tube. Measurements of camera performance characteristics including linearity, spatial and temporal resolution, line-spread function, contrast transfer ratio (CTR), and dynamic range have been made for several different camera configurations: CCD coupled directly to the streak tube, CCD directly coupled to the IIT, and the original configuration with a smaller CCD lens coupled to the IIT output. Spatial resolution (limiting visual) with and without the IIT is 8 and 20 lp/mm, respectively, for photocathode current density up to 25% of the Child-Langmuir (C-L) space-charge limit. Temporal resolution (fwhm) deteriorates by about 20% when the cathode current density reaches 10% of the C-L space charge limit. Streak tube operation with large average tube current was observed by lluminating the entire slit region through a Ronchi ruling and measuring the CTR. Sensitivity (CCD electrons per streak tube photoelectron) for the various configurations ranged from 7.5 to 2,700 with read noise of 7.5 to 10.5 electrons. Optimum spatial resolution is achieved when the IIT is removed. Maximum dynamic range requires a configuration where a single photoelectron from the photocathode produces a signal that is 3 to 5 times the read noise.
Due to the planar construction of present x-ray streak tubes significant off-center defocusing is observed in both static and dynamic images taken with one-dimensional resolution slits. Based on the streak tube geometry curved photocathodes with radii of curvature ranging from 3.5 to 18 inches have been fabricated. We report initial off-center focusing performance data on the evaluation of these "improved" photocathodes in an X-ray streak camera and an update on the theoretical simulations to predict the optimum cathode curvature.