The SPT-3G receiver was commissioned in early 2017 on the 10-meter South Pole Telescope (SPT) to map anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). New optics, detector, and readout technologies have yielded a multichroic, high-resolution, low-noise camera with impressive throughput and sensitivity, offering the potential to improve our understanding of inflationary physics, astroparticle physics, and growth of structure. We highlight several key features and design principles of the new receiver, and summarize its performance to date.
The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a millimeter-wavelength telescope designed for high-precision measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The SPT measures both the temperature and polarization of the CMB with a large aperture, resulting in high resolution maps sensitive to signals across a wide range of angular scales on the sky. With these data, the SPT has the potential to make a broad range of cosmological measurements. These include constraining the effect of massive neutrinos on large-scale structure formation as well as cleaning galactic and cosmological foregrounds from CMB polarization data in future searches for inflationary gravitational waves. The SPT began observing in January 2017 with a new receiver (SPT-3G) containing ~16,000 polarization-sensitive transition-edge sensor bolometers. Several key technology developments have enabled this large-format focal plane, including advances in detectors, readout electronics, and large millimeter-wavelength optics. We discuss the implementation of these technologies in the SPT-3G receiver as well as the challenges they presented. In late 2017 the implementations of all three of these technologies were modified to optimize total performance. Here, we present the current instrument status of the SPT-3G receiver.
The third-generation instrument for the 10-meter South Pole Telescope, SPT-3G, was first installed in January 2017. In addition to completely new cryostats, secondary telescope optics, and readout electronics, the number of detectors in the focal plane has increased by an order of magnitude from previous instruments to ~16,000. The SPT-3G focal plane consists of ten detector modules, each with an array of 269 trichroic, polarization-sensitive pixels on a six-inch silicon wafer. Within each pixel is a broadband, dual-polarization sinuous antenna; the signal from each orthogonal linear polarization is divided into three frequency bands centered at 95, 150, and 220 GHz by in-line lumped element filters and transmitted via superconducting microstrip to Ti/Au transition-edge sensor (TES) bolometers. Properties of the TES film, microstrip filters, and bolometer island must be tightly controlled to achieve optimal performance. For the second year of SPT-3G operation, we have replaced all ten wafers in the focal plane with new detector arrays tuned to increase mapping speed and improve overall performance. Here we discuss the TES superconducting transition temperature and normal resistance, detector saturation power, bandpasses, optical efficiency, and full array yield for the 2018 focal plane.
The desire for higher sensitivity has driven ground-based cosmic microwave background (CMB) experiments to employ ever larger focal planes, which in turn require larger reimaging optics. Practical limits to the maximum size of these optics motivates the development of quasi-optically-coupled (lenslet-coupled), multi-chroic detectors. These detectors can be sensitive across a broader bandwidth compared to waveguide-coupled detectors. However, the increase in bandwidth comes at a cost: the lenses (up to ~700 mm diameter) and lenslets (~5 mm diameter, hemispherical lenses on the focal plane) used in these systems are made from high-refractive-index materials (such as silicon or amorphous aluminum oxide) that reflect nearly a third of the incident radiation. In order to maximize the faint CMB signal that reaches the detectors, the lenses and lenslets must be coated with an anti-reflective (AR) material. The AR coating must maximize radiation transmission in scientifically interesting bands and be cryogenically stable. Such a coating was developed for the third generation camera, SPT-3G, of the South Pole Telescope (SPT) experiment, but the materials and techniques used in the development are general to AR coatings for mm-wave optics. The three-layer polytetra uoroethylene-based AR coating is broadband, inexpensive, and can be manufactured with simple tools. The coating is field tested; AR coated focal plane elements were deployed in the 2016-2017 austral summer and AR coated reimaging optics were deployed in 2017-2018.
The third generation receiver for the South Pole Telescope, SPT-3G, will make extremely deep, arcminuteresolution maps of the temperature and polarization of the cosmic microwave background. The SPT-3G maps will enable studies of the B-mode polarization signature, constraining primordial gravitational waves as well as the effect of massive neutrinos on structure formation in the late universe. The SPT-3G receiver will achieve exceptional sensitivity through a focal plane of ~16,000 transition-edge sensor bolometers, an order of magnitude more than the current SPTpol receiver. SPT-3G uses a frequency domain multiplexing (fMux) scheme to read out the focal plane, combining the signals from 64 bolometers onto a single pair of wires. The fMux readout facilitates the large number of detectors in the SPT-3G focal plane by limiting the thermal load due to readout wiring on the 250 millikelvin cryogenic stage. A second advantage of the fMux system is that the operation of each bolometer can be optimized. In addition to these benefits, the fMux readout introduces new challenges into the design and operation of the receiver. The bolometers are operated at a range of frequencies up to 5 MHz, requiring control of stray reactances over a large bandwidth. Additionally, crosstalk between multiplexed detectors will inject large false signals into the data if not adequately mitigated. SPT-3G is scheduled to deploy to the South Pole Telescope in late 2016. Here, we present the pre-deployment performance of the fMux readout system with the SPT-3G focal plane.
Detectors for cosmic microwave background (CMB) experiments are now essentially background limited, so a
straightforward alternative to improve sensitivity is to increase the number of detectors. Large arrays of multichroic
pixels constitute an economical approach to increasing the number of detectors within a given focal plane area. Here, we
present the fabrication of large arrays of dual-polarized multichroic transition-edge-sensor (TES) bolometers for the
South Pole Telescope third-generation CMB receiver (SPT-3G). The complete SPT-3G receiver will have 2690 pixels,
each with six detectors, allowing for individual measurement of three spectral bands (centered at 95 GHz, 150 GHz and
220 GHz) in two orthogonal polarizations. In total, the SPT-3G focal plane will have 16140 detectors. Each pixel is
comprised of a broad-band sinuous antenna coupled to a niobium microstrip transmission line. In-line filters are used to
define the different band-passes before the millimeter-wavelength signal is fed to the respective Ti/Au TES sensors.
Detectors are read out using a 64x frequency domain multiplexing (fMux) scheme. The microfabrication of the SPT-3G
detector arrays involves a total of 18 processes, including 13 lithography steps. Together with the fabrication process, the
effect of processing on the Ti/Au TES’s Tc is discussed. In addition, detectors fabricated with Ti/Au TES films with Tc
between 400 mK 560 mK are presented and their thermal characteristics are evaluated. Optical characterization of the
arrays is presented as well, indicating that the response of the detectors is in good agreement with the design values for
all three spectral bands (95 GHz, 150 GHz, and 220 GHz). The measured optical efficiency of the detectors is between
0.3 and 0.8. Results discussed here are extracted from a batch of research of development wafers used to develop the
baseline process for the fabrication of the arrays of detectors to be deployed with the SPT-3G receiver. Results from
these research and development wafers have been incorporated into the fabrication process to get the baseline fabrication
process presented here. SPT-3G is scheduled to deploy to the South Pole Telescope in late 2016.
We describe 280 GHz bolometric detector arrays that instrument the balloon-borne polarimeter spider. A primary science goal of spider is to measure the large-scale B-mode polarization of the cosmic microwave background (cmb) in search of the cosmic-inflation, gravitational-wave signature. 280 GHz channels aid this science goal by constraining the level of B-mode contamination from galactic dust emission. We present the focal plane unit design, which consists of a 16x16 array of conical, corrugated feedhorns coupled to a monolithic detector array fabricated on a 150 mm diameter silicon wafer. Detector arrays are capable of polarimetric sensing via waveguide probe-coupling to a multiplexed array of transition-edge-sensor (TES) bolometers. The spider receiver has three focal plane units at 280 GHz, which in total contains 765 spatial pixels and 1,530 polarization sensitive bolometers. By fabrication and measurement of single feedhorns, we demonstrate 14.7° FHWM Gaussian-shaped beams with <1% ellipticity in a 30% fractional bandwidth centered at 280 GHz. We present electromagnetic simulations of the detection circuit, which show 94% band-averaged, single-polarization coupling efficiency, 3% reflection and 3% radiative loss. Lastly, we demonstrate a low thermal conductance bolometer, which is well-described by a simple TES model and exhibits an electrical noise equivalent power (NEP) = 2.6 x 10-17 W/√Hz, consistent with the phonon noise prediction.
We present the results of integration and characterization of the Spider instrument after the 2013 pre-flight campaign. Spider is a balloon-borne polarimeter designed to probe the primordial gravitational wave signal in the degree-scale B-mode polarization of the cosmic microwave background. With six independent telescopes housing over 2000 detectors in the 94 GHz and 150 GHz frequency bands, Spider will map 7.5% of the sky with a depth of 11 to 14 μK•arcmin at each frequency, which is a factor of ~5 improvement over Planck. We discuss the integration of the pointing, cryogenic, electronics, and power sub-systems, as well as pre-flight characterization of the detectors and optical systems. Spider is well prepared for a December 2014 flight from Antarctica, and is expected to be limited by astrophysical foreground emission, and not instrumental sensitivity, over the survey region.
We present the second generation BLASTbus electronics. The primary purposes of this system are detector readout, attitude control, and cryogenic housekeeping, for balloon-borne telescopes. Readout of neutron transmutation doped germanium (NTD-Ge) bolometers requires low noise and parallel acquisition of hundreds of analog signals. Controlling a telescope's attitude requires the capability to interface to a wide variety of sensors and motors, and to use them together in a fast, closed loop. To achieve these different goals, the BLASTbus system employs a flexible motherboard-daughterboard architecture. The programmable motherboard features a digital signal processor (DSP) and field-programmable gate array (FPGA), as well as slots for three daughterboards. The daughterboards provide the interface to the outside world, with versions for analog to digital conversion, and optoisolated digital input/output. With the versatility afforded by this design, the BLASTbus also finds uses in cryogenic, thermometry, and power systems. For accurate timing control to tie everything together, the system operates in a fully synchronous manner. BLASTbus electronics have been successfully deployed to the South Pole, and own on stratospheric balloons.
An attitude determination system for balloon-borne experiments is presented. The system provides pointing information in azimuth and elevation for instruments flying on stratospheric balloons over Antarctica. In-flight attitude is given by the real-time combination of readings from star cameras, a magnetometer, sun sensors, GPS, gyroscopes, tilt sensors and an elevation encoder. Post-flight attitude reconstruction is determined from star camera solutions, interpolated by the gyroscopes using an extended Kalman Filter. The multi-sensor system was employed by the Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope for Polarimetry (BLASTPol), an experiment that measures polarized thermal emission from interstellar dust clouds. A similar system was designed for the upcoming flight of Spider, a Cosmic Microwave Background polarization experiment. The pointing requirements for these experiments are discussed, as well as the challenges in designing attitude reconstruction systems for high altitude balloon flights. In the 2010 and 2012 BLASTPol flights from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, the system demonstrated an accuracy of < 5’ rms in-flight, and < 5” rms post-flight.
We present the technology and control methods developed for the pointing system of the Spider experiment. Spider is a balloon-borne polarimeter designed to detect the imprint of primordial gravitational waves in the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation. We describe the two main components of the telescope’s azimuth drive: the reaction wheel and the motorized pivot. A 13 kHz PI control loop runs on a digital signal processor, with feedback from fibre optic rate gyroscopes. This system can control azimuthal speed with < 0.02 deg/s RMS error. To control elevation, Spider uses stepper-motor-driven linear actuators to rotate the cryostat, which houses the optical instruments, relative to the outer frame. With the velocity in each axis controlled in this way, higher-level control loops on the onboard flight computers can implement the pointing and scanning observation modes required for the experiment. We have accomplished the non-trivial task of scanning a 5000 lb payload sinusoidally in azimuth at a peak acceleration of 0.8 deg/s2, and a peak speed of 6 deg/s. We can do so while reliably achieving sub-arcminute pointing control accuracy.
We introduce the light-weight carbon fiber and aluminum gondola designed for the Spider balloon-borne telescope. Spider is designed to measure the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation with unprecedented sensitivity and control of systematics in search of the imprint of inflation: a period of exponential expansion in the early Universe. The requirements of this balloon-borne instrument put tight constrains on the mass budget of the payload. The Spider gondola is designed to house the experiment and guarantee its operational and structural integrity during its balloon-borne flight, while using less than 10% of the total mass of the payload. We present a construction method for the gondola based on carbon fiber reinforced polymer tubes with aluminum inserts and aluminum multi-tube joints. We describe the validation of the model through Finite Element Analysis and mechanical tests.
Here we describe the design and performance of the SPIDER instrument. SPIDER is a balloon-borne cosmic
microwave background polarization imager that will map part of the sky at 90, 145, and 280 GHz with subdegree
resolution and high sensitivity. This paper discusses the general design principles of the instrument inserts,
mechanical structures, optics, focal plane architecture, thermal architecture, and magnetic shielding of the TES
sensors and SQUID multiplexer. We also describe the optical, noise, and magnetic shielding performance of the
145 GHz prototype instrument insert.
We describe SPIDER, a balloon-borne instrument to map the polarization of the millimeter-wave sky with degree
angular resolution. Spider consists of six monochromatic refracting telescopes, each illuminating a focal plane
of large-format antenna-coupled bolometer arrays. A total of 2,624 superconducting transition-edge sensors are
distributed among three observing bands centered at 90, 150, and 280 GHz. A cold half-wave plate at the
aperture of each telescope modulates the polarization of incoming light to control systematics. SPIDER's first
flight will be a 20-30-day Antarctic balloon campaign in December 2011. This flight will map ~8% of the sky to
achieve unprecedented sensitivity to the polarization signature of the gravitational wave background predicted
by inflationary cosmology. The SPIDER mission will also serve as a proving ground for these detector technologies
in preparation for a future satellite mission.
We describe the cryogenic system for SPIDER, a balloon-borne microwave polarimeter that will map 8% of the
sky with degree-scale angular resolution. The system consists of a 1284 L liquid helium cryostat and a 16 L
capillary-filled superfluid helium tank, which provide base operating temperatures of 4 K and 1.5 K, respectively.
Closed-cycle 3He adsorption refrigerators supply sub-Kelvin cooling power to multiple focal planes, which are
housed in monochromatic telescope inserts. The main helium tank is suspended inside the vacuum vessel with
thermally insulating fiberglass flexures, and shielded from thermal radiation by a combination of two vapor
cooled shields and multi-layer insulation. This system allows for an extremely low instrumental background and
a hold time in excess of 25 days. The total mass of the cryogenic system, including cryogens, is approximately
1000 kg. This enables conventional long duration balloon flights. We will discuss the design, thermal analysis,
and qualification of the cryogenic system.
Spider is a balloon-borne array of six telescopes that will observe the Cosmic Microwave Background. The 2624
antenna-coupled bolometers in the instrument will make a polarization map of the CMB with approximately
one-half degree resolution at 145 GHz. Polarization modulation is achieved via a cryogenic sapphire half-wave
plate (HWP) skyward of the primary optic. We have measured millimeter-wave transmission spectra of the
sapphire at room and cryogenic temperatures. The spectra are consistent with our physical optics model, and
the data gives excellent measurements of the indices of A-cut sapphire. We have also taken preliminary spectra of
the integrated HWP, optical system, and detectors in the prototype Spider receiver. We calculate the variation
in response of the HWP between observing the CMB and foreground spectra, and estimate that it should not
limit the Spider constraints on inflation.