E-SQUID - Development of SQUID-based Multiplexers for Large Infrared-to-X-ray Imaging Detector Arrays in Astronomical Research from Space
Looking back in the earliest stages of the universe, X-ray sensing devices working at temperatures close to absolute zero are indispensable. The E-SQUID project will take Europe to the top in this critical technology domain.
Present astrophysics research focuses on solving the mysterious past and evolution of the Universe, which can be traced by observations of the most distant and faintest objects in the sky. Mission plans seek X-ray sensing devices that can detect the details of the faint glow of the first black holes and the very hot gas in the early Universe after the Big Bang, and the infrared light of cool objects in outer space, which human made devices have not been able to detect before. For both of these focus areas of modern astronomy, detectors operated at temperatures near absolute zero are by far the only choice fulfilling the requirements of science. For such detectors, the best readout solution is SQUID – the Superconducting Quantum Interference Device.
This has been recognized by developers of high sensitivity cameras for astronomy and other applications all over the world, and a lot of effort is put in on squeezing the ultimate performance from such devices. Presently, the European level of expertise is also advanced in this area of critical technology, but is not yet the state-of-the-art in the world. The goal of E-SQUID is to make progress in this area by utilizing the best European expertise, and bridge the gap to reach the top.
The practical task includes developing first prototypes of SQUID readout of small image arrays in the required wavelengths with the highest possible signal-to-noise ratio, and then scaling-up the size by methods that allow further upgrades to megapixel size in the future.
Source: European Communities, 2011