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Proceedings Paper

SAPHIRA detector for infrared wavefront sensing
Author(s): Gert Finger; Ian Baker; Domingo Alvarez; Derek Ives; Leander Mehrgan; Manfred Meyer; Jörg Stegmeier; Harald J. Weller
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Paper Abstract

The only way to overcome the CMOS noise barrier of near infrared sensors used for wavefront sensing and fringe tracking is the amplification of the photoelectron signal inside the infrared pixel by means of the avalanche gain. In 2007 ESO started a program at Selex to develop near infrared electron avalanche photodiode arrays (eAPD) for wavefront sensing and fringe tracking. In a first step the cutoff wavelength was reduced from 4.5 micron to 2.5 micron in order to verify that the dark current scales with the bandgap and can be reduced to less than one electron/ms, the value required for wavefront sensing. The growth technology was liquid phase epitaxy (LPE) with annular diodes based on the loophole interconnect technology. The arrays required deep cooling to 40K to achieve acceptable cosmetic performance at high APD gain. The second step was to develop a multiplexer tailored to the specific application of the GRAVITY instrument wavefront sensors and the fringe tracker. The pixel format is 320x256 pixels. The array has 32 parallel video outputs which are arranged in such a way that the full multiplex advantage is available also for small subwindows. Nondestructive readout schemes with subpixel sampling are possible. This reduces the readout noise at high APD gain well below the subelectron level at frame rates of 1 KHz. The third step was the change of the growth technology from liquid phase epitaxy to metal organic vapour phase epitaxy (MOVPE). This growth technology allows the band structure and doping to be controlled on a 0.1μm scale and provides more flexibility for the design of diode structures. The bandgap can be varied for different layers of Hg(1-x)CdxTe. It is possible to make heterojunctions and apply solid state engineering techniques. The change to MOVPE resulted in a dramatic improvement in the cosmetic quality with 99.97 % operable pixels at an operating temperature of 85K. Currently this sensor is deployed in the 4 wavefront sensors and in the fringe tracker of the VLT instrument GRAVITY. Initial results will be presented. An outlook will be given on the potential of APD technology to be employed in large format near infrared science detectors. Several of the results presented here have also been shown to a different audience at the Scientific Detector Workshop in October 2013 in Florence but this paper has been updated with new results [1].

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 August 2014
PDF: 16 pages
Proc. SPIE 9148, Adaptive Optics Systems IV, 914817 (7 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2057078
Show Author Affiliations
Gert Finger, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Ian Baker, SELEX ES Ltd. (United Kingdom)
Domingo Alvarez, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Derek Ives, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Leander Mehrgan, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Manfred Meyer, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Jörg Stegmeier, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Harald J. Weller, SELEX ES Ltd. (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9148:
Adaptive Optics Systems IV
Enrico Marchetti; Laird M. Close; Jean-Pierre Véran, Editor(s)

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