Phonon-mediated superconducting transition-edge sensor x-ray detectors for use in astronomy

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Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE)


Superconducting Transition-Edge Sensors (TESs) are generating a great deal of interest in the areas of x-ray astrophysics and space science, particularly to develop them as large-array, imaging x-ray spectrometers. We are developing a novel concept that is based on position-sensitive macro-pixels placing TESs on the backside of a silicon or germanium absorber. Each x-ray absorbed will be position (X/δX and Y/δY ~ 100) and energy (E/δE ~ 1000) resolved via four distributed TES readouts. In the future, combining such macropixels with advances in multiplexing could lead to 30 by 30 arrays of close-packed macro-pixels equivalent to imaging instruments of 10 megapixels or more. We report on our progress to date and discuss its application to a plausible solar satellite mission and plans for future development.