The Photon Detection Systems Group conducts Research and Development into photon detectors and instrument systems. Most of MSSL's flight hardware projects have been built on a foundation of detector development. The selection of instruments to fly on spacecraft is a highly competitive process and it essential for MSSL to maintain at the forefront of detector technology.

In any application of a detector system in space there is enormous motivation to extract the maximum possible information from the returned raw data. This requires a complete understanding of the instrument involved. Modern detector systems are often so complex that it is not feasible to measure performance over even a small fraction of the possible operational configurations. Also performance may depend subtly on the nature of the irradiation or even on the previous history of illumination.

For these reasons MSSL places great emphasis on understanding the physical principles behind the operation of the instruments that we develop - the Instrument Science. Once these principles are known, and a (computer) model of the detector system is prepared, the performance can then be simulated. By cross checking the results of this simulation with measured calibration values a more robust overall "instrument response function" can be derived which provides the basis for future data analysis.

Of course it is not possible for MSSL, or any single research group, to conduct research into more than a small range of detector technologies. Our Research and Development programme is set by our existing flight hardware commitments and the future needs of the scientific community. The Instrument Science Group focuses on

  • CCD and CMOS imagers for wavelengths from near-Infrared to X-ray
  • Microchannel plate Intensified devices for visual/UV single-photon imaging
  • Thermal Infrared imagers for earth and cloud observation
  • Imaging proportional counters for X-ray telescopes
  • Solid-state detectors for hard X-rays and Gamma-rays

Page last modified on 09 sep 11 12:01