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By Lee J. Nelson
Owing to Gaia's projected flight, image sensors' active area will have to cover as much of the focal plane as possible, while minimizing blind spots created by the chips' electrical attachments.
Under contract to EADS SPACE (Paris, France), e2v responded with a custom 4.5×6.0 cm CCD, the CCD91-72s. To comply with high stability constraints of Gaia's focal plane, e2v and EADS collaborated on an innovative silicon carbide mounting. Anti-blooming techniques, time delay and integration gates further support faint object imaging as well as sudden exposure to vivid entities without loss of responsivity. "We are extremely proud to have achieved something that none of our competitors has been able to accomplish," said business manager Ralph Holtom. "Our involvement with space programs like Gaia is enabling us to make a critical contribution to the understanding of our Universe. e2v will continue to deliver technical excellence into the hands of scientists, for this and similar projects in the future."
The latest addition to their family of high performance sensors, Fairchild Imaging, Inc.'s (Milpitas, Calif.) CCD 3041 is a full-frame, multiport imager, targeted at advanced scientific, medical and industrial applications. Delivering 2048×2048 resolution, the 15 μm pixel pitch focal plane array affords high dynamic range (16-bit) which can be enhanced by on-chip binning. Offered in front- and back-illuminated configurations with peak quantum efficiency greater than 90 percent, CCD 3041 achieves exceptional light collection for "photon-starved" imaging. Four outputs ensure high frame rates while a single stage source-follower output amplifier assures low noise performance.
Director of Sales and Marketing Colin Earle said, "The multiport architecture of the CCD 3041 enables leading CCD camera designers to develop real-time imaging systems with low light scientific performance." Besides its negligible noise level and high speed readout, the device is optimized for Peltier-cooled low-light imaging by minimizing package size and weight. The minimalist ceramic package reduces heat load and promotes efficient thermoelectric cooling.
PCO Computer Optics GmbH's (Kelheim, Germany) Sensicam is a 12-bit CCD with on-chip electron multiplication. The camera features thermoelectric cooling to -45°C (-49°F), high resolution (1004×1002 pixels), low noise (less than 12e RMS), outstanding quantum efficiency (less than 65 percent) and achieves superior spectral sensitivity, especially in near-IR. Exposure time is software-selectable from 75 μsec to one hour. Image data are transferred via serial interface and a fiber-channel is available. According to the company, Sensicam is suited for low-light, high-resolution applications.