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Thin silicon solid-state detectors for energetic particle measurements. Development, characterization, and application on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission

Wiedenbeck, M. E. and Burnham, J. A. and Cohen, C. M. S. and Cook, W. R. and Crabill, R. M. and Cummings, A. C. and Davis, A. J. and Kecman, B. and Labrador, A. W. and Leske, R. A. and Mewaldt, R. A. and Rankin, J. S. and Rusert, M. D. and Stone, E. C. and Christian, E. R. and Goodwin, P. A. and Link, J. T. and Nahory, B. W. and Shuman, S. A. and von Rosenvinge, T. T. and Tindall, C. S. and Black, H. and Bullough, M. and Clarke, N. and Glasson, V. and Greenwood, N. and Hawkins, C. and Johnson, T. L. and Newton, A. and Richardson, K. and Walsh, S. and Wilburn, C. and Birdwell, B. and Everett, D. T. and McComas, D. J. and Weidner, S. E. and Angold, N. G. and Schwadron, N. A. (2021) Thin silicon solid-state detectors for energetic particle measurements. Development, characterization, and application on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 650 . Art. No. A27. ISSN 0004-6361. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202039754.

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Context. Silicon solid-state detectors are commonly used for measuring the specific ionization, dE∕dx, in instruments designed for identifying energetic nuclei using the dE∕dx versus total energy technique in space and in the laboratory. The energy threshold and species resolution of the technique strongly depend on the thickness and thickness uniformity of these detectors. Aims. Research has been carried out to develop processes for fabricating detectors that are thinner than 15 μm, that have a thickness uniformity better than 0.2 μm over cm² areas, and that are rugged enough to survive the acoustic and vibration environments of a spacecraft launch. Methods. Silicon-on-insulator wafers that have a device layer of the desired detector thickness supported by a thick handle layer were used as starting material. Standard processing techniques were used to fabricate detectors on the device layer, and the underlying handle-layer material was etched away leaving a thin, uniform detector surrounded by a thick, supporting frame. Results. Detectors as thin as 12 μm were fabricated in two laboratories and successfully subjected to environmental and performance tests. Two detector designs were used in the High-energy Energetic Particles Instrument, which is part of the Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun instrument suite on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe spacecraft. These detectors have been performing well for more than two years in space. Conclusions. Thin silicon detectors in d E∕dx versus total energy instruments enable the identification of nuclei with energies down to ~1 MeV nuc⁻¹. This research suggests that detectors at least a factor of two thinner should be achievable using this fabrication technique.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemIS⊙IS data and visualization tools ItemNASA Space Physics Data Facility
Wiedenbeck, M. E.0000-0002-2825-3128
Cohen, C. M. S.0000-0002-0978-8127
Cummings, A. C.0000-0002-3840-7696
Davis, A. J.0000-0002-9922-8915
Labrador, A. W.0000-0001-9178-5349
Leske, R. A.0000-0002-0156-2414
Mewaldt, R. A.0000-0003-2178-9111
Rankin, J. S.0000-0002-8111-1444
Stone, E. C.0000-0002-2010-5462
Christian, E. R.0000-0003-2134-3937
McComas, D. J.0000-0001-6160-1158
Schwadron, N. A.0000-0002-3737-9283
Additional Information:© ESO 2021. Article published by EDP Sciences. Received 24 October 2020; Accepted 3 December 2020. Published online 02 June 2021. We thank W. C. Tang for suggesting the use of SOI wafers as the basis for thin detector fabrication, B. Eyre for research on optimizing etching processes, J. Klemic (deceased) for developing the etching process used for thinning the detectors processed at LBNL, and B. D. Milliken for pioneering the technique used for thickness mapping. We thank S. Holland for useful discussions and S. M. Krimigis provided helpful comments about the thin silicon detectors used on Voyager. Important contributions to the success of the IS⊙IS EPI-Hiinstrument were made by numerous other scientists, engineers, and technicians. Particular thanks are due to G. Dirks, D. H. Do, J. J. Hanley, L. Hernandez, T. L. Johnson, S. Lopez, H. Miyasaka, G. Riggins, B. Rodriguez, K. Simms, and M. L. White. We gratefully acknowledge the test support provided by Michigan State University’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, Texas A&M University’s Cyclotron Institute, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s 88-inch Cyclotron Laboratory. This work was supported, in part, by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Mission, contract NNN06AA01C. Parker Solar Probe was designed, built, and is now operated by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory as part of NASA’s Living with a Star (LWS) program. Support from the LWS management and technical team has played a critical role in the success of the Parker Solar Probe mission. Earlier detector development work at JPL, Caltech, and LBNL was supported by several NASA grants. The IS⊙IS data and visualization tools are available to the community at; data are also available via the NASA Space Physics Data Facility (
Group:Space Radiation Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:instrumentation: detectors – Sun: particle emission – acceleration of particles – space vehicles: instruments
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210608-101914332
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Official Citation:Thin silicon solid-state detectors for energetic particle measurements - Development, characterization, and application on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission. M. E. Wiedenbeck, J. A. Burnham, C. M. S. Cohen, W. R. Cook, R. M. Crabill, A. C. Cummings, A. J. Davis, B. Kecman, A. W. Labrador, R. A. Leske, R. A. Mewaldt, J. S. Rankin, M. D. Rusert, E. C. Stone, E. R. Christian, P. A. Goodwin, J. T. Link, B. W. Nahory, S. A. Shuman, T. T. von Rosenvinge, C. S. Tindall, H. Black, M. Bullough, N. Clarke, V. Glasson, N. Greenwood, C. Hawkins, T. L. Johnson, A. Newton, K. Richardson, S. Walsh, C. Wilburn, B. Birdwell, D. T. Everett, D. J. McComas, S. E. Weidner, N. G. Angold and N. A. Schwadron. A&A, 650 (2021) A27; DOI:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109439
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:09 Jun 2021 18:40
Last Modified:09 Jun 2021 18:40

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