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Cosmic Ray Susceptibility of the Terahertz Intensity Mapper Detector Arrays

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We report on the effects of cosmic ray interactions with the kinetic inductance detector (KID)-based focal plane array for the terahertz intensity mapper (TIM). TIM is a NASA-funded balloon-borne experiment designed to probe the peak of the star formation in the Universe. It employs two spectroscopic bands, each equipped with a focal plane of four \(\sim \,\)900-pixel, KID-based array chips. Measurements of an 864-pixel TIM array show 791 resonators in a 0.5 GHz bandwidth. We discuss challenges with resonator calibration caused by this high multiplexing density. We robustly identify the physical positions of 788 (99.6 %) detectors using a custom LED-based identification scheme. Using this information, we show that cosmic ray events occur at a rate of 2.1\(\,\mathrm {events/min/cm^2}\) in our array. 66 % of the events affect a single pixel, and other 33 % affect \(<\,\)5 KIDs per event spread over a 0.66\(\,\mathrm {cm^2}\) region (2 pixel pitches in radius). We observe a total cosmic ray dead fraction of 0.0011 % and predict that the maximum possible in-flight dead fraction is \(\sim \,\)0.124 %, which demonstrates our design will be robust against these high-energy events.

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  1. Larger fluxes could be possible if the effective area impacted by a single cosmic ray even is smaller than a pixel.

  2. This may explain our measured \(f_\textrm{loss}\) \(\sim \,\)4\(\times \) lower than the minimum value reported by Karatsu et al. [14], though note that the sensitivity of the TIM devices at 250 mK is an order of magnitude lower, which complicates the attribution.


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TIM is supported by NASA under grant 80NSSC19K1242, issued through the Science Mission Directorate. Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004).

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In the online supplementary material, we show an animation of an example cosmic ray event that records the entire series of the interaction between this particular cosmic ray hit and the behavior of surrounding affected pixels, from the generation of the highly perturbed {\it df}/{\it f} noise to the decay back to equilibrium.(pdf 331KB)

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Liu, LJ., Janssen, R.M.J., Bumble, B. et al. Cosmic Ray Susceptibility of the Terahertz Intensity Mapper Detector Arrays. J Low Temp Phys (2024).

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