Optical Infrared Coordination Network for Astronomy

Horizon 2020

JRA3 - Emerging Fast Detectors


High Time Resolution Astrophysics (HTRA) is essentially a detector and instrument problem to maintain detectable fluxes on short time scales. Detector/instrument criteria are characterised by

  1. Low noise detectors - low dark count and read noise approaching zero.
  2. High throughput instruments including very few optical components with high encircled energy.
  3. Large collecting areas.
  4. Given the emerging science for the near-IR these should be sensitive up to at least K band.

A number of detector possibilities satisfy the first criteria. These include Microwave Kinetic Devices (MKID) and eavalanche photo-diodes, eAPD. The proposed JRA will work towards characterising these technologies for science observing. The characterisation will include polarisation, photometric linearity, stability, noise and absolute timing. Our proposal will combine both the detector technological limitations as well as the requirements of different science cases.

The MKID group in Oxford will coordinate all aspects of the characterisation of MKIDs building upon their previous work in the development of the Arcons camera with the University of California Santa Barbara. The Oxford group has STFC PRD funding to demonstrate an MKID camera. This work is in collaboration with UCSB and they have access to UCSB’s MKID arrays, as well as a nascent programme to develop further arrays with Cambridge University.

NUI Galway group will look specifically at both MKID polarisation characteristics and eAPD noise and sensitivity with Oxford and First Light. This will build upon their development work using the the Galway Astronomical Stokes Polarimeter (GASP) and use similar polarisation state generators. The Galway group, through Science Foundation Ireland funding, is developing the capability for fast polarimetric instrumentation in the near-IR. This is part of a wider project to develop a centre for astronomical and earth observation instrumentation.


Andy Shearer (NUIG) -