UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Space & Climate Physics - the Mullard Space Science Laboratory

Research case study: working with industry to build better CCDs

MSSL has a long and fruitful partnership with e2v, the leading manufacturer of charge coupled devices (CCDs). CCDs are the light-detecting chips that lie at the heart of digital cameras, astronomical telescopes and photocopiers.

Although the technology has existed for decades, improvements in chip manufacturing alongside better scientific characterisation of how they work, means that the picture quality CCDs produce is constantly improving.Developments in astronomical CCDs have fed into consumer electronics. 

British company e2v is one of the main suppliers of scientific CCDs in the world. These are built to tight tolerances so that extremely precise measurements of light and dark can be made, allowing high quality data for scientific research.

MSSL works with e2v to test and characterise their CCDs, and has done so for the past two decades. The fruits of this collaboration have flown on major space missions including Hinode and the forthcoming ESA missions Gaia and Euclid. These two will be the largest CCD arrays ever launched into space.