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 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 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.