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Above: JPL developed a mid-infrared camera based on 256x256 quantum well infrared photodetector (QWIP) focal plane arrays. The camera is designed to operate from the prime focus of the Hale 200-inch (5-meter) telescope at Palomar with a wide 2’x 2’ field of view and diffraction-limited 0.5” pixels. QWICPIC is designed to observe at 8.5 and 12.5 μm simultaneously to map comparatively large regions of the sky in thermal dust emission or to survey highly confused regions for reddened embedded objects. The Hale telescope (f/3.3) was the world’s largest effective telescope for 45 years (1948–1993). Above: JPL developed a mid-infrared camera based on 256x256 quantum well infrared photodetector (QWIP) focal plane arrays. The camera is designed to operate from the prime focus of the Hale 200-inch (5-meter) telescope at Palomar with a wide 2’x 2’ field of view and diffraction-limited 0.5” pixels. QWICPIC is designed to observe at 8.5 and 12.5 μm simultaneously to map comparatively large regions of the sky in thermal dust emission or to survey highly confused regions for reddened embedded objects. The Hale telescope (f/3.3) was the world’s largest effective telescope for 45 years (1948–1993).

Infrared Photodetectors

MDL has made numerous advances in infrared detection technology, including the high operating temperature barrier infrared detectors covering the entire infrared spectrum. In recognition of continuing work in this area, JPL created the Center for Infrared Photodetectors in 2013.

Visible light spanning the wavelength range from blue to red is a tiny slice of the electromagnetic spectrum. While an enormous wealth of scientific information can be and is obtained through imaging and spectroscopy in visible light, the invisible portion of the spectrum can be harvested to yield both more detailed and new information. An object at room temperature and in complete darkness may be perfectly invisible to the human eye, but its temperature will make it glow in the infrared, shining brightest at infrared wavelengths. In the early nineties, JPL formed an MDL group to develop novel infrared detector technologies that can enable new observational instruments. MDL’s comprehensive end-to-end capabilities include concept development, simulation and design of quantum structure devices, materials growth and characterization, array fabrication, and characterization of detector arrays.

 

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