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Subassembly Calibration: ACIS


The ACIS instrument team is in the middle of an ambitious calibration program at the writing of this article. Well over a hundred CCDs have been produced at MIT Lincoln Laboratories (LL), from which ten will be selected for the flight focal plane and ten for the backup focal plane. The ACIS subassembly calibration consists of several, mostly independent, activities, requiring measurements in the ACIS team's own laboratories at MIT and Penn State and at national and international synchrotron facilities. These activities include the calibration of flight-quality CCDs at the BESSY synchrotron to be used as transfer-standards against the flight CCDs, the screening of the flight candidate CCDs in order to identify the best candidates, the detailed calibration of the X-ray performance of the flight CCDs, the calibration of the optical blocking filters at the Wisconsin and Brookhaven synchrotrons, and the integrated test of the flight instrument at MIT LL. This effort began in earnest in 1995 and will continue into 1997, culminating with the calibration of ACIS with the HRMA and gratings at the XRCF.

The expected calibration accuracies will far exceed any previously attained in X-ray astronomy; for example, the goal for detection efficiency accuracy is 1% on tex2html_wrap_inline846 pixel regions and the goal for the energy scale calibration is 0.1% (Bautz, et al. 1996, SPIE). In order to achieve these levels of accuracy, the ACIS team has developed a multi-phase calibration plan to provide the necessary data over the 0.1-10.0 keV band. The different phases of the subassembly calibration will be outlined in the sections below. More detailed information about each of these phases can be found in the papers written by the ACIS team and referenced below. The MIT papers will be accessible from the MIT CCD group home page and the Penn State papers are currently available on the WWW. An overview of the calibration objectives can be found in an ACIS team memo entitled ACIS CCD Subassembly Calibration Plan.
Note: The Web Page containing this document at MIT has been removed.

CCD Screening and Calibration

The first task in this process is to identify CCDs which pass the selection criteria for flight-candidate CCDs. MIT LL performs several tests on the CCDs before they leave the fabrication facility. These tests check the functionality of the 4 quadrants and output nodes, the gain, the noise, the dark current, and for the existence of bad columns and hot pixels at a temperature of -40 C. If the CCD passes all of these tests, it is sent to the MIT Center for Space Research (CSR) where a more detailed screening of the X-ray performance is acquired. The first order of business is to determine the optimal clocking voltages, which provide the lowest noise and a reasonable gain, at a temperature of -120 C. The CCDs are exposed to an Fe55 source (5.898 keV) for these measurements and are then later exposed to tex2html_wrap_inline848 1.485 keV X-rays. All three data sets are used to measure the charge-transfer inefficiency (CTI), readout noise, spectral resolution and detection uniformity of the CCD. In addition to these data, measurements are made at several exposure times to determine the dark current. And of course, these data are used to identify any new bad columns or hot pixels. These procedures, the selection criteria and preliminary results are described in more detail in Pivovaroff, et al. 1996. Flight-candidate CCDs will typically have a RMS readout noise of 2-4  tex2html_wrap_inline850 , CTI below tex2html_wrap_inline852 , and spectral resolution within 10% of the theoretical limit. More than 30 CCDs have been measured which pass the selection criteria.

Figure 3: The model detection efficiency for 1 and 2 pixel events as a function of energy for a front-illuminated CCD (from Bautz, et al. 1996).

Absolute QE Measurements

The ACIS team has been conducting measurements at the Berliner Elektron Speicherring Synchrotron (BESSY) with flight-quality CCDs in order to calibrate the absolute detection efficiency. The BESSY synchrotron provides undispersed radiation in the 0.1-10.0 keV band which is calculable to better than 1% accuracy. Several trips have been made in 1995 and 1996 with several different CCDs. In addition, monochromators at BESSY have been used to characterize the CCD response near absorption edges where the response of the device is changing rapidly with energy. These CCDs are then returned to the MIT laboratory where they are used as transfer-standard reference detectors. Therefore, the BESSY data provide the foundation on which the absolute calibration rests for the flight CCDs.

Figure 4: The measured spectral resolution for 1 and 2 pixel events as a function of energy for a front-illuminated CCD (from Bautz, et al. 1996). The data were fit with a single gaussian at each energy. The error bars of tex2html_wrap_inline858  eV represent the repeatibility of the measurements. The fitted readout noise is tex2html_wrap_inline860 and the fitted value for the fano factor F times the mean ionization potential per electron-hole pair tex2html_wrap_inline834 is tex2html_wrap_inline836 .

Detailed X-ray Characterization of the CCDs

The ACIS team has developed five laboratory setups (two of which are identical and redundant), each with a specific calibration goal in mind. A grating spectrometer has been developed to measure the spectral response of the CCDs over the 0.2-1.5 keV range (Prigozhin, et al. 1996), with a special emphasis on the study of the O-K edge ( tex2html_wrap_inline870  eV). Another spectrometer has been developed to scan the Si-K edge ( tex2html_wrap_inline872  eV). A third spectrometer is used to collect the screening data discussed above. The last (twin) setup collects the majority of the subassembly data since it is the chamber which houses both a test CCD and a BESSY-calibrated reference CCD (Jones, et al. 1996), hence the advantage of having two setups. This chamber produces both spectral resolution measurements at 16 energies and quantum efficiency measurements at 8 energies. The chamber contains Tritium-fluoresced C, O, and F sources and Al, Si, P, Cl, Ti, V, Mn, Fe, Co, Zn, Ge, & Ni targets fluoresced by a Molybdenum target excited by a 15 keV electron beam. This chamber also contains an Fe55 source. For the quantum efficiency measurements, tex2html_wrap_inline874 counts are collected at each energy over the entire CCD; for the spectral resolution measurements, tex2html_wrap_inline876 counts are collected at each energy. In addition to being measured against the reference CCDs, the flight CCDs are also measured against a Si(Li) detector (Manning, et al. 1996). Figure 3 shows a preliminary QE curve derived from these data, accepting single and two pixel events, for a front-illuminated CCD which is typical of the flight-candidate CCDs. The high energy QE is dramatically higher if the event selection is changed to include 3 and 4 pixel events. Figure 4 shows the spectral resolution measurements for the same CCD, also selecting 1 and 2 pixel events.

Filter Calibration

Three main types of measurements are performed on the flight-candidate filters: spatial uniformity measurements, detailed scans around absorption edges, and optical light rejection efficiency. The spatial uniformity measurements are performed at the University of Wisconsin Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC) at energies of 273, 522, 775, 1330, and 1860 eV (Townsley, et al. 1996). The spatial uniformity is measured on a 0.75 mm scale which matches the tex2html_wrap_inline846 pixel scale on which the CCD QE is measured. Preliminary measurements have identified non-uniformities varying from 0.5% to 2.0%. The transmission of the filters around important edges is measured at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory (Chartas, et al. 1996). The C, Ni, O, Al, and Si edge regions are scanned using a spectrometer/reflectometer which can provide resolution better than 0.1 eV. These data have revealed the extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) near absorption edges. Finally, the filters are exposed to diffuse optical light to search for pinholes and leaks in a laboratory setup at Penn State.


Bautz, M, ``ACIS Subassembly Calibration Plan'', 1996 ACIS Team Memo,

Bautz, M., Kissel, S., Prigozhin, G., Jones, S., Isobe, T., Manning, H., Pivovaroff. M., Ricker, G., & Woo, J., ``X-ray Calibration for the AXAF CCD Imaging Spectrometer'', 1996 SPIE 2805

Chartas, G., Garmire, G., Nousek, J., & Townsley, L., ``ACIS UV/Optical Blocking Filter Calibration at the National Synchrotron Light Source'', 1996 SPIE 2805,

Jones, S.E., Bautz, M.W., Kissel, S., & Pivovaroff. M., G.R., ``Using Tritium and X-ray Tubes as X-ray Calibration Sources for ACIS'', 1996 SPIE 2805

Manning, H.L., Jones, S.E., Kissel, S.E., Bautz, M.W., & Ricker, G.R., ``Quantum Efficiency Calibration of AXAF CCDs from 2-10 keV'', 1996 SPIE 2805

Pivovaroff. M., Kissel, S., Bautz, M.W., Prigozhin, G., Isobe, T., Woo, J. & Gregory, J.A., ``Flight X-ray CCD Selection for ACIS'', 1996 SPIE 2805

Prigozhin, G., Bautz, M.W., Gendreau, K., & Ricker, G., ``Calibration of X-ray CCDs with an Erect Field Grating Spectrometer in the 0.2-1.5 keV Band'', 1996 SPIE 2805

Townsley, L., Powell, F.R., MacKay, J.F., Lagally, M.G., Nousek, J., & Garmire, G., ``Transmission Maps of the ACIS UV/Optical Blocking Filters'', 1996 SPIE 2805,

Paul Plucinsky

next up previous contents
Next: Subassembly Calibration: HRC
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Previous: Mirror Progress

Nancy Evans
Thu Oct 24 10:15:04 EDT 1996