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Above: Saturn's rings, as seen in this ultraviolet image taken with UVIS on board Cassini

MDL News & Trends

JPL Microdevices Laboratory Selected to Lead Study on Next-Generation UV Instrument Technologies

UV offers one of the few remaining areas of the electromagnetic spectrum where it is possible to make great leaps in instruments and science return. In support of the advancement of next-generation UV/optical missions, the W. M. Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) selected Shouleh Nikzad from JPL’s MDL, Professor Chris Martin from Caltech, and Professor David Schiminovich from Columbia University to lead a study for the creation of a new paradigm in UV/optical instrument design, detector technology, and optics. This was a particularly timely study due to ongoing discoveries from missions such as Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), Hubble Space Telescope, and Cassini.

Participants for the study were selected from universities, other NASA centers and national laboratories such as NIST, and industry. The study brought together a diverse international community of students, postdocs, astrophysicists, cosmologists, materials scientists, device physicists, heliophysicists, and condensed-matter physicists. It led to many new ideas and collaborations, brought cohesion to UV practitioners, and created a comprehensive report on the science and technologies. All this will have a lasting and positive impact on the future of UV instrumentation.

A principal conclusion of the study was that UV detector performance drives every aspect of the scientific capability of future missions, and that two technologies were at tipping points for major breakthroughs. One of these is the atomic layer deposition, antireflection coated, delta-doped photon-counting detectors currently in development at MDL.