Lynx requires large-format x-ray imaging detectors with performance at least as good as the best current-generation devices but with much higher readout rates. We are investigating an advanced charge-coupled device (CCD) detector architecture under development at MIT Lincoln Laboratory for use in the Lynx high-definition x-ray imager and x-ray grating spectrometer instruments. This architecture features a CMOS-compatible detector integrated with parallel CMOS signal processing chains. Fast, low-noise amplifiers and highly parallel signal processing provide the high frame rates required. CMOS-compatibility of the CCD enables low-power charge transfer and signal processing. We report on the performance of CMOS-compatible test CCDs read at pixel rates up to 5.0 Mpix s − 1 (50 times faster than Chandra ACIS CCDs), with transfer clock swings as low as 1.0-V peak-to-peak (power/gate-area comparable to ACIS CCDs at 100 times the parallel transfer rate). We measure read noise of 4.6 electrons RMS at 2.5 MHz and x-ray spectral resolution better than 150-eV full-width at half maximum at 5.9 keV for single-pixel events. We report charge transfer efficiency measurements and demonstrate that buried channel trough implants as narrow as 0.8 μm are effective in improving charge transfer performance. We find that the charge transfer efficiency of these devices drops significantly as detector temperature is reduced from ∼ − 30 ° C to −60 ° C. We point out the potential of previously demonstrated curved-detector fabrication technology for simplifying the design of the Lynx high-definition imager. We discuss the expected detector radiation tolerance at these relatively high transfer rates. Finally, we note that the high pixel “aspect ratio” (depletion depth: pixel size ≈9 ∶ 1) of our test devices is similar to that expected for Lynx detectors and discuss implications of this geometry for x-ray performance and noise requirements.
Over the past 20 years, we have developed arrays of custom-fabricated silicon and InP Geiger-mode avalanche photodiode arrays, CMOS readout circuits to digitally count or time stamp single-photon detection events, and techniques to integrate these two components to make back-illuminated solid-state image sensors for lidar, optical communications, and passive imaging. Starting with 4 × 4 arrays, we have recently demonstrated 256 × 256 arrays, and are working to scale to megapixel-class imagers. In this paper, we review this progress and discuss key technical challenges to scaling to large format.
Silicon charge-coupled devices (CCDs) are commonly utilized for scientific imaging in wavebands spanning the near infrared to soft X-ray. These devices offer numerous advantages including large format, excellent uniformity, low read noise, noiseless on-chip charge summation, and high energy resolution in the soft X-ray band. By building CCDs on bulk germanium, we can realize all of these advantages while covering an even broader spectral range, notably including the short-wave infrared (SWIR) and hard X-ray bands. Since germanium is available in wafer diameters up to 200 mm and can be processed in the same tools used to build silicon CCDs, large-format (>10 MPixel, >10 cm2 ) germanium imaging devices with narrow pixel pitch can be fabricated. Furthermore, devices fabricated on germanium have recently demonstrated the combination of low surface state density and high carrier lifetime required to achieve low dark current in a CCD. At MIT Lincoln Laboratory, we have been developing germanium imaging devices with the goal of fabricating large-format CCDs with SWIR or broadband X-ray sensitivity, and we recently realized our first front-illuminated CCDs built on bulk germanium. In this article, we describe design and fabrication of these arrays, analysis of read noise and dark current on these devices, and efforts to scale to larger device formats.
Future X-ray missions such as Lynx require large-format imaging detectors with performance at least as good as the best current-generation devices but with much higher readout rates. We are investigating a Digital CCD detector architecture, under development at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, for use in such missions. This architecture features a CMOS-compatible detector integrated with parallel CMOS signal processing chains. Fast, low-noise amplifiers and highly parallel signal processing provide the high frame-rates required. CMOS-compatibility of the CCD provides low-power charge transfer and signal processing. We report on the performance of CMOS-compatible test CCDs read at rates up to 5 Mpix s−1 (50 times faster than Chandra ACIS CCDs), with transfer clock swings as low as ±1.5 V (power/area < 10% of that of ACIS CCDs). We measure read noise below 6 electrons RMS at 2.5 MHz and X-ray spectral resolution better than 150 eV FWHM at 5.9 keV for single-pixel events. We discuss expected detector radiation tolerance at these relatively high transfer rates. We point out that the high pixel ’aspect ratio’ (depletion-depth : pixel size ≈ 9 : 1) of our test devices is similar to that expected for Lynx detectors, and illustrate some of the implications of this geometry for X-ray performance and noise requirements.
We describe recent advances in backside passivation of large-format charge-coupled devices (CCDs) fabricated on 200- mm diameter wafers. These CCDs utilize direct oxide bonding and molecular-beam epitaxial (MBE) growth to enable high quantum efficiency in the ultraviolet (UV) and soft X-ray bands. In particular, the development of low-temperature MBE growth techniques and oxide bonding processes, which can withstand MBE processing, are described. Several highperformance large-format CCD designs were successfully back-illuminated using the presented process and excellent quantum efficiency (QE) and dark current are measured on these devices. Reflection-limited QE is measured from 200 nm to 800 nm, and dark current of less than 1e- /pixel/sec is measured at 40°C for a 9.5 μm pixel.
Directly deposited optical-blocking filters (DD OBFs) have the potential to improve filter performance and lower risk and cost for future x-ray imaging spectroscopy missions. However, they have not been fully characterized on high-performance charge coupled devices (CCDs). This paper reports the results of DD OBFs processed on high-performance photon-counting CCDs. It is found that CCD performance is not degraded by deposition of such filters. X-ray and optical transmission through the OBF is characterized and found to match theoretical expectation. Light-leaks through pinholes and the side and back surfaces are found to lower the optical extinction ratio; various coating processes are developed to resolve these issues.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a NASA Explorer-class mission in development, will discover planets around
nearby stars, most notably Earth-like planets with potential for follow up characterization. The all-sky survey requires a
suite of four wide field-of-view cameras with sensitivity across a broad spectrum. Deep depletion CCDs with a silicon
layer of 100 μm thickness serve as the camera detectors, providing enhanced performance in the red wavelengths for
sensitivity to cooler stars. The performance of the camera is critical for the mission objectives, with both the optical
system and the CCD detectors contributing to the realized image quality. Expectations for image quality are studied
using a combination of optical ray tracing in Zemax and simulations in Matlab to account for the interaction of the
incoming photons with the 100 μm silicon layer. The simulations include a probabilistic model to determine the depth of
travel in the silicon before the photons are converted to photo-electrons, and a Monte Carlo approach to charge diffusion.
The charge diffusion model varies with the remaining depth for the photo-electron to traverse and the strength of the
intermediate electric field. The simulations are compared with laboratory measurements acquired by an engineering unit
camera with the TESS optical design and deep depletion CCDs. In this paper we describe the performance simulations
and the corresponding measurements taken with the engineering unit camera, and discuss where the models agree well in
predicted trends and where there are differences compared to observations.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an Explorer-class mission dedicated to finding planets
around bright, nearby stars so that more detailed follow-up studies can be done. TESS is due to launch in
2017 and careful characterization of the detectors will need to be completed on ground before then to
ensure that the cameras will be within their photometric requirement of 60ppm/hr. TESS will fly MITLincoln
Laboratories CCID-80s as the main scientific detector for its four cameras. They are 100μm deep
depletion devices which have low dark current noise levels and can operate at low light levels at room
temperature. They also each have a frame store region, which reduces smearing during readout and allows
for near continuous integration. This paper describes the hardware and methodology that were developed
for testing and characterizing individual CCID-80s. A dark system with no stimuli was used to measure the
dark current. Fe55 and Cd109 X-ray sources were used to establish gain at low signal levels and its
temperature dependence. An LED system that generates a programmable series of pulses was used in
conjunction with an integrating sphere to measure pixel response non-uniformity (PRNU) and gain at
higher signal levels. The same LED system was used with a pinhole system to evaluate the linearity and
charge conservation capability of the CCID-80s.
Silicon X-ray detectors often require blocking filters to mitigate noise and out-of-band signal from UV and visible backgrounds. Such filters must be thin to minimize X-ray absorption, so direct deposition of filter material on the detector entrance surface is an attractive approach to fabrication of robust filters. On the other hand, the soft (E < 1 keV) X-ray spectral resolution of the detector is sensitive to the charge collection efficiency in the immediate vicinity of its entrance surface, so it is important that any filter layer is deposited without disturbing the electric field distribution there. We have successfully deposited aluminum blocking filters, ranging in thickness from 70 to 220nm, on back-illuminated CCD X-ray detectors passivated by means of molecular beam epitaxy. Here we report measurements showing that directly deposited filters have little or no effect on soft X-ray spectral resolution. We also find that in applications requiring very large optical density (> OD 6) care must be taken to prevent light from entering the sides and mounting surfaces of the detector. Our methods have been used to deposit filters on the detectors of the REXIS instrument scheduled to fly on OSIRIS-ReX later this year.
We report our progress toward optimizing backside-illuminated silicon P-type intrinsic N-type complementary metal oxide semiconductor devices developed by Teledyne Imaging Sensors (TIS) for far-ultraviolet (UV) planetary science applications. This project was motivated by initial measurements at Southwest Research Institute of the far-UV responsivity of backside-illuminated silicon PIN photodiode test structures, which revealed a promising QE in the 100 to 200 nm range. Our effort to advance the capabilities of thinned silicon wafers capitalizes on recent innovations in molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) doping processes. Key achievements to date include the following: (1) representative silicon test wafers were fabricated by TIS, and set up for MBE processing at MIT Lincoln Laboratory; (2) preliminary far-UV detector QE simulation runs were completed to aid MBE layer design; (3) detector fabrication was completed through the pre-MBE step; and (4) initial testing of the MBE doping process was performed on monitoring wafers, with detailed quality assessments.
The Regolith x-ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS) is a coded-aperture soft x-ray imaging instrument on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to be launched in 2016. The spacecraft will fly to and orbit the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, while REXIS maps the elemental distribution on the asteroid using x-ray fluorescence. The detector consists of a 2×2 array of backilluminated 1k×1k frame transfer CCDs with a flight heritage to Suzaku and Chandra. The back surface has a thin p+-doped layer deposited by molecular-beam epitaxy (MBE) for maximum quantum efficiency and energy resolution at low x-ray energies. The CCDs also feature an integrated optical-blocking filter (OBF) to suppress visible and near-infrared light. The OBF is an aluminum film deposited directly on the CCD back surface and is mechanically more robust and less absorptive of x-rays than the conventional free-standing aluminum-coated polymer films. The CCDs have charge transfer inefficiencies of less than 10-6, and dark current of 1e-/pixel/second at the REXIS operating temperature of –60 °C. The resulting spectral resolution is 115 eV at 2 KeV. The extinction ratio of the filter is ~1012 at 625 nm.
We report our progress toward optimizing backside-illuminated silicon PIN CMOS devices developed by Teledyne Imaging Sensors (TIS) for far-UV planetary science applications. This project was motivated by initial measurements at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) of the far-UV responsivity of backside-illuminated silicon PIN photodiode test structures described in Bai et al., SPIE, 2008, which revealed a promising QE in the 100-200 nm range as reported in Davis et al., SPIE, 2012. Our effort to advance the capabilities of thinned silicon wafers capitalizes on recent innovations in molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) doping processes. Key achievements to date include: 1) Representative silicon test wafers were fabricated by TIS, and set up for MBE processing at MIT Lincoln Laboratory (LL); 2) Preliminary far-UV detector QE simulation runs were completed to aid MBE layer design; 3) Detector fabrication was completed through the pre-MBE step; and 4) Initial testing of the MBE doping process was performed on monitoring wafers, with detailed quality assessments. Early results suggest that potential challenges in optimizing the UV-sensitivity of silicon PIN type CMOS devices, compared with similar UV enhancement methods established for CCDs, have been mitigated through our newly developed methods. We will discuss the potential advantages of our approach and briefly describe future development steps.
Orthogonal transfer array CCDs were originally developed by the University of Hawaii and MIT Lincoln Laboratory
for use in the focal planes of the ground-based Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System
(Pan-STARRS). These devices have relatively large area (5x5 cm) and a novel, multiple-output readout architecture
that makes them attractive for certain applications in spaced-base X-ray astronomy. We have therefore
conducted a series of tests to determine their sensitivity to proton radiation encountered on-orbit. We report
effects of typical on-orbit proton exposure on charge transfer efficiency, dark current, noise and spectral resolution
as a function of device operating temperature and readout parameters.
MIT Lincoln Laboratories and MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research have developed an
active pixel sensor for use as a photon counting device for imaging spectroscopy in the soft X-ray band. A
silicon-on-insulator (SOI) readout circuit was integrated with a high-resistivity silicon diode detector array using
a per-pixel 3D integration technique developed at Lincoln Laboratory. We have tested these devices at 5.9 keV
and 1.5 keV. Here we examine the interpixel cross-talk measured with 5.9 keV X-rays.
We have developed a hybrid Active Pixel Sensor for detecting low energy X-rays. The sensor consists of a silicon
diode detector array built on a high resistivity wafer and an SOI CMOS readout circuit, connected together by
means of unique 3D integration technology developed at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. In this paper we will describe
measurements of sense node capacitance and device depletion depth along with corresponding simulations aimed
to optimize device performance. We also describe race condition in the column decoder and identify ways to
eliminate it in order to reduce fixed pattern noise.
SOI-based active pixel image sensors have been built in both monolithic and vertically interconnected pixel technologies. The latter easily supports the inclusion of more complex pixel circuitry without compromising pixel fill factor. A wafer-scale back-illumination process is used to achieve 100% fill factor photodiodes. Results from 256 x 256 and 1024 x 1024 pixel arrays are presented, with discussion of dark current improvement in the differing technologies.
In this paper we describe a new technology which fabricates CCDs and fully depleted silicon on insulator CMOS circuits on the same 150-mm silicon wafer. We present results from 7.5 X 7.5-micrometers 2 and 15 X 15-micrometers 2-pixel imagers that are 512 X 512 frame transfer devices. The 7.5-micrometers -pixel device exhibits a charge handling capacity in excess of 100,000 electrons at 3.3 V and the 15-micrometers - pixel device exhibits a charge-transfer efficiency over 99.998%. In addition, we demonstrate functional SOI CMOS ring oscillators with delay of 47 ps/stage at 3.3 V and 68 ps/stage at 2 V.