The future generation of high angular resolution space telescopes will require breakthrough technologies to combine large diameters and large focal plane arrays with compactness and lightweight mirrors and structures. Considering the allocated volume medium-size launchers, short focal lengths are mandatory, implying complex optical relays to obtain diffraction limited images on large focal planes.
In this paper we present preliminary studies to obtain compact focal plane arrays (FPA) for earth observations on low earth orbits at high angular resolution. Based on the principle of image slicers, we present an optical concept to arrange a 1D FPA into a 2D FPA, allowing the use of 2D detector matrices. This solution is particularly attractive for IR imaging requiring a cryostat, which volume could be considerably reduced as well as the relay optics complexity.
Enabling the use of 2D matrices for such an application offers new possibilities. Recent developments on curved FPA allows optimization without concerns on the field curvature. This innovative approach also reduces the complexity of the telescope optical combination, specifically for fast telescopes. This paper will describe the concept and optical design of an F/5 - 1.5m telescope equipped with such a FPA, the performances and the impact on the system with a comparison with an equivalent 1.5m wide field Korsch telescope.
LAM and CEA-LETI are developing the technology of deformable detectors, for UV, VIS or NIR applications. Such breakthrough devices will be a revolution for future wide field imagers and spectrographs, firstly by improving the image quality with better off-axis sharpness, resolution, brightness while scaling down the optical system, secondly by overcoming the manufacturing issues identified so far and by offering a flexibility and versatility in optical design. The technology of curved detectors can benefit of the developments of active and deformable structures, to provide a flexibility and a fine tuning of the detectors curvature by thinning down the substrate without modifying the fabrication process of the active pixels. We present studies done so far on optical design improvements, the technological demonstrators we developed and their performances as well as the future five-years roadmap for these developments.
InfraRed (IR) sensor systems like night vision goggles, missile approach warning systems and telescopes have an increasing interest in decreasing their size and weight. At the same time optical aberrations are always more difficult to optimize with larger Focal Plane Arrays (FPAs) and larger field of view. Both challenges can now take advantage of a new optical parameter thanks to flexible microelectronics technologies: the FPA spherical curvature. This bio-inspired approach can correct optical aberrations and reduce the number of lenses in camera conception. Firstly, a new process to curve thin monolithic devices has been applied to uncooled microbolometers FPAs. A functional 256×320 25μm pitch (roughly 1cm2) uncooled FPA has been thinned and curved. Its electrical response showed no degradation after our process (variation of less than 2.3% on the response). Then a two lenses camera with a curved FPA is designed and characterized in comparison with a two lenses camera with a flat FPA. Their Modulation Transfer Functions (MTFs) show clearly an improvement in terms of beams dispersion. Secondly, a new process to fabricate monolithic cooled flip-chip MCT-IRCMOS FPAs was developed leading to the first spherical cooled IR FPA: with a radius of 550 mm. Other radii are achieved. A standard opto-electrical characterization at 80 K of the imager shows no additional short circuit and no mean response alteration compared to a standard IRCMOS shown in reference. Noise is also studied with a black body between 20 and 30°C.