IOP Institute of Physics

For physics • For physicists • For all


For novel CCD imaging detectors with enhanced X-ray and near infra-red sensitivity to capture more detail in biological nanostructures and remote astronomical objects.

This innovation from e2v addresses the challenge of using high-resolution imaging to capture more of the output from astronomical objects at near infra-red wavelengths. This is a particular challenge for remote objects because redshift increases with distance and so observation of these objects requires highly sensitive detectors at these longer wavelengths. Silicon sensors are also able to detect X-rays with energy of a few kiloelectronvolts (keV), but this provides limited detail when imaging molecular structures in nanomachines./p>

The resolution to both problems lies in increasing the depth of silicon that participates in turning incoming photons into signal electrons. However, with such deep silicon, it is possible for signal electrons to wander across pixel boundaries and make the image fuzzy. The solution is to use silicon with much higher resistivity and to apply a high-voltage bias through the depth of the pixel. The resulting electric field gathers the signal electrons and keeps them in the correct pixel. Special design features protect the output amplifiers from that high bias and guarantee reliability while achieving a five times improvement in both the near infra-red and X-ray performance.

The first customer for this technology was Riken’s SACLA XFEL in Japan, where high-resolution images produced by e2v’s new CCDs are used to investigate complex protein structure and cellular processes at the atomic level.

They were closely followed by the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile, where it will be used for a wide range of astronomical applications – investigating the structure of the Milky Way, the most distant quasars, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy. New applications in scientific cameras for microscopy and life science research are also emerging. It is anticipated that in three to five years this product will represent around 10% of the business unit portfolio.

The company

e2v partner with their customers to improve, save and protect people’s lives. Their innovations lead to developments in communications, automation, discovery, healthcare and the environment. The company employ around 1,750 people across nine engineering locations and six sales offices in countries across Europe, America and Asia. They have annual sales of £236 m, and are listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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