AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 45. Instrumentation for Space Observations
Display, Tuesday, January 8, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Monroe/Lincoln

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[45.05] A High-Speed, Event-Driven, Active Pixel Sensor Readout for Photon-Counting Microchannel Plate Detectors

R. A. Kimble (GSFC), B. Pain (JPL), T. J. Norton, P. Haas (GSFC)

Silicon array readouts for microchannel plate intensifiers offer several attractive features. In this class of detector, the electron cloud output of the MCP intensifier is converted to visible light by a phosphor; that light is then fiber-optically coupled to the silicon array. In photon-counting mode, the resulting light splashes on the silicon array are recognized and centroided to fractional pixel accuracy by off-chip electronics. This process can result in very high (MCP-limited) spatial resolution for the readout while operating at a modest MCP gain (desirable for dynamic range and long term stability).

The principal limitation of intensified CCD systems of this type is their severely limited local dynamic range, as accurate photon counting is achieved only if there are not overlapping event splashes within the frame time of the device. This problem can be ameliorated somewhat by processing events only in pre-selected windows of interest or by using an addressable charge injection device (CID) for the readout array.

We are currently pursuing the development of an intriguing alternative readout concept based on using an event-driven CMOS Active Pixel Sensor. APS technology permits the incorporation of discriminator circuitry within each pixel. When coupled with suitable CMOS logic outside the array area, the discriminator circuitry can be used to trigger the readout of small sub-array windows only when and where an event splash has been detected, completely eliminating the local dynamic range problem, while achieving a high global count rate capability and maintaining high spatial resolution. We elaborate on this concept and present our progress toward implementing an event-driven APS readout.

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