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Design, simulation, and fabrication of three-dimensional microsystem components using grayscale photolithography

Summary

Grayscale lithography is a widely known but underutilized microfabrication technique for creating three-dimensional (3-D) microstructures in photoresist. One of the hurdles for its widespread use is that developing the grayscale photolithography masks can be time-consuming and costly since it often requires an iterative process, especially for complex geometries. We discuss the use of PROLITH, a lithography simulation tool, to predict 3-D photoresist profiles from grayscale mask designs. Several examples of optical microsystems and microelectromechanical systems where PROLITH was used to validate the mask design prior to implementation in the microfabrication process are presented. In all examples, PROLITH was able to accurately and quantitatively predict resist profiles, which reduced both design time and the number of trial photomasks, effectively reducing the cost of component fabrication.
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Summary

Grayscale lithography is a widely known but underutilized microfabrication technique for creating three-dimensional (3-D) microstructures in photoresist. One of the hurdles for its widespread use is that developing the grayscale photolithography masks can be time-consuming and costly since it often requires an iterative process, especially for complex geometries. We discuss...

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Directly deposited optical-blocking filters for single-photon x-ray imaging spectroscopy

Published in:
J. Astron. Telesc. Instrum. Syst., Vol. 3, No. 3 (2017), 036001.

Summary

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.
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Summary

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...

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Germanium CCDs for large-format SWIR and x-ray imaging

Summary

Germanium exhibits high sensitivity to short-wave infrared (SWIR) and X-ray radiation, making it an interesting candidate for imaging applications in these bands. Recent advances in germanium processing allow for high-quality charge-coupled devices (CCDs) to be realized in this material. In this article, we discuss our evaluation of germanium as an absorber material for CCDs via fabrication and analysis of discrete devices such as diodes, metal-insulator-semiconductor capacitors, and buried-channel metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs). We then describe fabrication of our first imaging device on germanium, a 32 x 1 x 8.1 um linear shift register. Based on this work, we find that germanium is a promising material for CCDs imaging in the SWIR and X-ray bands.
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Summary

Germanium exhibits high sensitivity to short-wave infrared (SWIR) and X-ray radiation, making it an interesting candidate for imaging applications in these bands. Recent advances in germanium processing allow for high-quality charge-coupled devices (CCDs) to be realized in this material. In this article, we discuss our evaluation of germanium as an...

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HF vector sensor for radio astronomy: ground testing results

Summary

The radio sky below ~10 MHz is largely unexplored due to the inability of ground-based telescopes to observe near or below the ionospheric plasma frequency, or cut-off frequency. A space-based interferometric array is required to probe the portion of the electromagnetic (E-M) spectrum below 10 MHz with sufficient angular resolution and sensitivity to be scientifically useful. Multi-spacecraft constellations scale quickly in cost and complexity as the number of spacecraft increases, so minimizing the number of required spacecraft for an interferometric array (while maintaining performance) is critical for feasibility. We present the HF (High Frequency, 3 to 30 MHz) Vector Sensor as a high performance spacecraft instrument in a future space-based interferometric array. The HF Vector Sensor is composed of three orthogonal dipoles and three orthogonal loop antennas with a common phase center. These six elements fully measure the E-M field of incoming radiation. We present the design of two prototype HF Vector Sensors, ground-based data collection at frequencies above the ionospheric cut-off, and imaging results using several different algorithms.
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Summary

The radio sky below ~10 MHz is largely unexplored due to the inability of ground-based telescopes to observe near or below the ionospheric plasma frequency, or cut-off frequency. A space-based interferometric array is required to probe the portion of the electromagnetic (E-M) spectrum below 10 MHz with sufficient angular resolution...

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The TESS camera: modeling and measurements with deep depletion devices

Summary

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 um 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 um 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.
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Summary

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...

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Directly-deposited blocking filters for high-performance silicon x-ray detectors

Published in:
SPIE, Vol. 9905, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2016: Ultraviolet to Gamma Ray, July 2016, 99054C.

Summary

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.
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Summary

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...

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Vector antenna and maximum likelihood imaging for radio astronomy

Summary

Radio astronomy using frequencies less than ~100 MHz provides a window into non-thermal processes in objects ranging from planets to galaxies. Observations in this frequency range are also used to map the very early history of star and galaxy formation in the universe. Much effort in recent years has been devoted to highly capable low frequency ground-based interferometric arrays such as LOFAR, LWA, and MWA. Ground-based arrays, however, cannot observe astronomical sources below the ionospheric cut-off frequency of ~10 MHz, so the sky has not been mapped with high angular resolution below that frequency. The only space mission to observe the sky below the ionospheric cut-off was RAE-2, which achieved an angular resolution of ~60 degrees in 1973. This work presents alternative sensor and algorithm designs for mapping the sky both above and below the ionospheric cutoff. The use of a vector sensor, which measures the full electric and magnetic field vectors of incoming radiation, enables reasonable angular resolution (~5 degrees) from a compact sensor (~4 m) with a single phase center. A deployable version of the vector sensor has been developed to be compatible with the CubeSat form factor.
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Summary

Radio astronomy using frequencies less than ~100 MHz provides a window into non-thermal processes in objects ranging from planets to galaxies. Observations in this frequency range are also used to map the very early history of star and galaxy formation in the universe. Much effort in recent years has been...

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Asteroid search operations with the Space Surveillance Telescope

Summary

Over the past two years, the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has transitioned to asteroid search operations using the new 3.5-meter wide-field-of-view Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) located at the Atom Site on White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The SST was developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) by MIT Lincoln Laboratory to help advance the nation's capabilities in space situational awareness. The goals of LINEAR using SST are to continue discovering Near-Earth objects (NEOs) especially focusing on improving knowledge of asteroids 140 meters in diameter and larger. In this paper, we will review results of the first two years of asteroid search operations, during which the SST has delivered over 9.4 million observations to the Minor Planet Center. Recent and planned system improvements will also be discussed.
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Summary

Over the past two years, the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has transitioned to asteroid search operations using the new 3.5-meter wide-field-of-view Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) located at the Atom Site on White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The SST...

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Enhancing the far-ultraviolet sensitivity of silicon complementary metal oxide semiconductor imaging arrays

Summary

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.
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Summary

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...

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Development and application of spherically curved charge-coupled device imagers

Summary

Operation of a CCD imager on a curved focal surface offers advantages to flat focal planes, especially for lightweight, relatively simple optical systems. The first advantage is that the modulation transfer function can approach diffraction-limited performance for a spherical focal surface employed in large field-of-view or large-format imagers. The second advantage is that a curved focal surface maintains more uniform illumination as a function of radius from the field center. Examples of applications of curved imagers, described here, include a small compact imager and the large curved array used in the Space Surveillance Telescope. The operational characteristics and mechanical limits of an imager deformed to a 15 mm radius are also described.
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Summary

Operation of a CCD imager on a curved focal surface offers advantages to flat focal planes, especially for lightweight, relatively simple optical systems. The first advantage is that the modulation transfer function can approach diffraction-limited performance for a spherical focal surface employed in large field-of-view or large-format imagers. The second...

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