Advanced Detectors, Systems, & Nanoscience
Faint Intergalactic Redshifted Experiment Balloon (FIREBall) Enabled by MDL’s Next-Generation Detector
FIREBALL-2 (Faint Intergalactic Redshifted Experiment Balloon) is a follow-up Caltech mission to discover and map faint emission from the intergalactic medium. While FIREBALL-1 used a GALEX spare detector based on a microchannel plate, this next-generation detector, also developed by MDL, is a 2-megapixel delta-doped, custom antireflection (AR)–coated electron multiplied CCD (EMCCD) array. This combination creates a detector capable of photon counting with a much higher QE. Our previous single-layer AR coatings designed for a GALEX follow-on mission concept demonstrated nearly an order of magnitude improvement over the GALEX detector by showing a 50% QE in a 0.5 megapixel format. The new design shows nearly 80% QE in the narrowband window in the atmosphere at 205 nm. In addition, the pixel count was increased by a factor of four, making the technology of interest for future astrophysics and planetary missions.