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Proceedings Paper

AQUARIUS: the next generation mid-IR detector for ground-based astronomy, an update.
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Paper Abstract

ESO has already published data from a preliminary laboratory analysis on the new mid-IR detector, AQUARIUS, at the previous SPIE conference of 2012, held in Amsterdam2. This data analysis indicated that this new mid-IR Si:As IBC detector, from Raytheon Vision Systems, was an excellent astronomical detector when compared to previous generations of this detector type, specifically in terms of stability, read noise and cosmetic quality. Since that time, the detector has been deployed into the VISIR1 instrument at the VLT, with very mixed performance results, especially when used with the telescope secondary mirror, to chop between two areas of sky to do background subtraction and at the same time when many frames are co-added to improve the signal to noise performance. This is the typical mode of operation for a mid-IR instrument on a ground based telescope. Preliminary astronomical data analysis indicated that the new detector was a factor of two to three times less sensitive in terms of its signal to noise per unit time performance when directly compared to the old DRS detector that AQUARIUS was designed to replace. To determine the reason for this loss of sensitivity, the instrument was removed from the telescope and not offered to the ESO user community. A detector testing campaign was then initiated in our laboratory to determine the reasons for this loss of sensitivity, assuming that it was an issue with the new detector itself. This paper reports on our latest laboratory measurements to determine the reasons for this loss of sensitivity. We specifically report on indirect measurements made to measure the quantum efficiency of the detector, which can be difficult to measure directly. We also report on a little known source of noise, called Excess Low Frequency Noise (ELFN). Detailed analysis and testing has confirmed that this ELFN is the reason for the loss of instrument sensitivity. This has been proven by a re-commissioning phase at the telescope with the instrument and the detector. A new set of observing parameters and observational regime have been developed to help to mitigate the ELFN. We outline a possible explanation for the source of the EFLN, learnt from a literature search and discussion with the manufacturer.

Paper Details

Date Published: 23 July 2014
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 9154, High Energy, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy VI, 91541J (23 July 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2055837
Show Author Affiliations
Derek Ives, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Gert Finger, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Gerd Jakob, European Southern Observatory (Germany)
Udo Beckmann, Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9154:
High Energy, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy VI
Andrew D. Holland; James Beletic, Editor(s)

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