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Astrophysics Colloquium

Next Generation Imaging Detectors for Inner, Middle, and Outer Space
Presented by Don Figer -- Host: Michael Werner
Rochester Institute of Technology

Thursday, December 9, 2010
4:00 P.M. in 169-336

Detectors often limit sensitivity in low flux applications, whether imaging faint objects or detecting brighter sources in cases where the photon flux is dispersed in time, space, or energy. Building larger optical apertures and more complex instruments can improve sensitivity for photon starved applications, but at extreme costs for the largest and most sophisticated systems. An alternative is to use quantum-limited detectors that extract all information from each incoming photon, i.e. all three spatial coordinates, time of arrival, wavelength, and polarization state. These types of detectors would improve sensitivity while dramatically reducing system complexity and need for resources, e.g. size, weight, and power. Practical quantum-limited detectors are on the horizon. A wide range of applications could benefit from them in the quest to explore phenomena that span over 30 orders of magnitude in size scale from structures as big as the Universe to individual neurons. A number of technologies show promise for achieving quantum-limited performance, although typically in only one or two performance characteristics. Most of the research and development in advancing these technologies concerns optimization and scaling to useful detector sizes.

In this talk, a brief overview of applications that depend most on new detectors will be given, with emphasis on astrophysics, defense, and biophotonics. I will also describe efforts to realize quantum-limited detectors within the next ten years, with a particular emphasis on reducing read noise to zero through in-pixel charge amplification. Summaries and progress reports will be given for several projects being led by the newly-formed Center for Detectors at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in collaboration with other universities, NASA, and national laboratories.

SVCP Astrophysics

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