We present the design and performance of a feedhorn-coupled bolometer array intended for a sensitive 350-µm photometer camera. Silicon nitride micromesh absorbers minimize the suspended mass and heat capacity of the bolometers. The temperature transducers, neutron-transmutation-doped Ge thermistors, are attached to the absorber with In bump bonds. Vapor-deposited electrical leads address the thermistors and determine the thermal conductance of the bolometers. The bolometer array demonstrates a dark noise-equivalent power of 2.9 × 10-17 W/√Hz and a mean heat capacity of 1.3 pJ/K at 390 mK. We measure the optical efficiency of the bolometer and feedhorn to be 0.45–0.65 by comparing the response to blackbody calibration sources. The bolometer array demonstrates theoretical noise performance arising from the photon and the phonon and Johnson noise, with photon noise dominant under the design background conditions. We measure the ratio of total noise to photon noise to be 1.21 under an absorbed optical power of 2.4 pW. Excess noise is negligible for audio frequencies as low as 30 mHz. We summarize the trade-offs between bare and feedhorn-coupled detectors and discuss the estimated performance limits of micromesh bolometers. The bolometer array demonstrates the sensitivity required for photon noise-limited performance from a spaceborne, passively cooled telescope.
© 2001 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: March 20, 2001
Revised Manuscript: June 26, 2001
Published: October 1, 2001
Anthony D. Turner, James J. Bock, Jeffrey W. Beeman, Jason Glenn, Peter C. Hargrave, Viktor V. Hristov, Hien T. Nguyen, Faiz Rahman, Srinivasan Sethuraman, and Adam L. Woodcraft, "Silicon nitride micromesh bolometer array for submillimeter astrophysics," Appl. Opt. 40, 4921-4932 (2001)