The company Integrated Detector Electronics AS (IDEAS) has signed a contract with the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) to develop electronic components for the next generation instruments for ground-based astronomy. The electronics, an integrated circuit with very low-noise amplifiers, will be used at ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) currently under construction in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
After travelling millions of light years photons are collected by the giant mirrors of ESO’s telescopes and converted to tiny electric signals in the focal plane detectors. The integrated circuits amplify these signals so they can be converted to digital data, which the astronomers process to study objects at the far reaches of the universe to planets around other stars in our own galaxy.
The detectors and the electronics are kept at very low temperature to be able to detect the faint signals. The integrated circuits from IDEAS will be placed next to the highly sensitive photon detectors and cooled to 200 °C below zero. With IDEAS integrated circuits the astronomers can fit more pixels into the focal plane of the instruments, and improve the precision and sensitivity.
IDEAS circuits will also have uses in other applications where a large amount of amplifier channels is needed in a small volume and where low temperature operations is required.