Response of a delta-doped charge-coupled device to low energy protons and nitrogen ions

Lepri, S. T.; Nikzad, Shouleh; Jones, T.; Blacksberg, J.; Zurbuchen, T. H.
May 2006
Review of Scientific Instruments;May2006, Vol. 77 Issue 5, p053301
Academic Journal
We present the results of a study of the response of a delta-doped charge-coupled device (CCD) exposed to ions with energies less than 10 keV. The study of ions in the solar wind, the majority having energies in the 1–5 keV range, has proven to be vital in understanding the solar atmosphere and the near Earth space environment. Delta-doped CCD technology has essentially removed the dead layer of the silicon detector. Using the delta-doped detector, we are able to detect H+ and N+ ions with energies ranging from 1 to 10 keV in the laboratory. This is a remarkable improvement in the low energy detection threshold over conventional solid-state detectors, such as those used in space sensors, one example being the solar wind ion composition spectrometer (SWICS) on the Advanced Composition Explorer spacecraft, which can only detect ions with energies greater than 30 keV because of the solid-state detector’s minimum energy threshold. Because this threshold is much higher than the average energy of the solar wind ions, the SWICS instrument employs a bulky high voltage postacceleration stage that accelerates ions above the 30 keV detection threshold. This stage is massive, exposes the instrument to hazardous high voltages, and is therefore problematic both in terms of price and its impact on spacecraft resources. Adaptation of delta-doping technology in future space missions may be successful in reducing the need for heavy postacceleration stages allowing for miniaturization of space-borne ion detectors.


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