A low noise 2 × 16 Ge:Sb focal-plane array: Paving the way for large format FPAs for far IR astronomy
Future astronomical instruments call for large format and high sensitivity far infrared focal-plane arrays to meet their science objectives. Arrays as large as 128 × 128 with sensitivities equal to or better than 10-18 W/√Hz are set as targets for the far IR instruments to be developed within the next 10 years. These seemingly modest goals present a not-so-modest quantum leap for far IR detector technology whose progress is hampered by a number of complexities; chief among them the development of low noise readouts operating at deep cryogenic temperatures and a viable hybridization scheme suitable for far IR detectors. In an effort to incrementally develop large-format photoconductor arrays, we have fabricated a 2 × 16 Ge:Sb array using the SBRC190 readout a cryogenic 1 × 32 CTIA readout multiplexer initially developed for SOFIA’s AIRES instrument. In this paper we report the results of the extensive parametric tests performed on this array showing an impressive noise performance of 2.2 × 10-18 W/√Hz and a DQE of 0.41 despite some design limitations. With such an encouraging performance, this prototype array will serve as a platform for our future developmental effort.