Operation of an InGrid based X-ray detector at the CAST experiment
Physikalisches Institut, University of Bonn, Nußallee 12, 53115 Bonn, Germany
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Published online: 21 February 2018
The CERN Axion Solar Telescope (CAST) is searching for axions and other particles which could be candidates for DarkMatter and even Dark Energy. These particles could be produced in the Sun and detected by a conversion into soft X-ray photons inside a strong magnetic field. In order to increase the sensitivity for physics beyond the Standard Model, detectors with a threshold below 1 keV as well as efficient background rejection methods are required to compensate for low energies and weak couplings resulting in very low detection rates.
Those criteria are fulfilled by a detector utilizing the combination of a pixelized readout chip with an integrated Micromegas stage. These InGrid (Integrated Grid) devices can be build by photolithographic postprocessing techniques, resulting in a close to perfect match of grid and pixels facilitating the detection of single electrons on the chip surface. The high spatial resolution allows for energy determination by simple electron counting as well as for an event-shape based analysis as background rejection method. Tests at an X-ray generator revealed the energy threshold of an InGrid based X-ray detector to be well below the carbon Kα line at 277 eV. After the successful demonstration of the detectors key features, the detector was mounted at one of CAST’s four detector stations behind an X-ray telescope in 2014. After several months of successful operation without any detector related interruptions, the InGrid based X-ray detector continues data taking at CAST in 2015.
During operation at the experiment, background rates in the order of 10−5 keV−1 cm−2 s−1 have been achieved by application of a likelihood based method discriminating the non-photon background originating mostly from cosmic rays. For continued operation in 2016, an upgraded InGrid based detector is to be installed among other improvements including decoupling and sampling of the signal induced on the grid as well as a veto scintillator to further lower the observed background rates and improving sensitivity.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2018
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