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Above: This side-by-side comparison shows the nearby galaxy Messier 81. While the visible-light image from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory reveals the distribution of stars (left), an ultraviolet-light image shows the most active, young stars (right). The ultraviolet image, taken by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), reveals that the galaxy’s spiral arms are dotted with pockets of violent star-forming activity.

MDL News & Trends

Large-Format, High-Efficiency Detector Will Help Discover and Map Faint Emission from the Intergalactic Medium

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, under development through MDL’s Advanced Detectors, Systems, and Nanoscience group, 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.

To learn more about MDL’s Advanced Detectors, Systems, and Nanoscience group, visit: