X-rays, UV photons and particles from the sun interfere with satellites, which are critical components of communication, weather prediction, television, the Global Positioning System, GPS, and national security. They can also interfere with ground-based technological infrastructure, disrupt airlines and affect human and robotic activities in space.
The variability of this activity makes it difficult to predict the intensity, thus a better understanding of the sun is needed. A better understanding of the mechanisms that drive the sun’s mechanisms would make possible accurate predictions of activity. Heliophysics missions will improve our scientific understanding of the mechanisms and the fundamental physics processes underlying near-earth plasma dynamics. These missions require compact, radiation-hard sensors to measure energetic particles and plasmas that withstand the radiation damage induced by these particles.
Thus the goal of this program is to develop compact, radiation-hard diamond sensors to measure energetic particles (charged particles, neutral atoms and/or neutrons) and plasmas using the detectors in a stacked or imaging configuration.
The proposed radiation-hard diamond particle sensors and imaging instruments will allow astrophysicists to make measurements in high radiation environments where available silicon and CZT detectors cannot be used. Diamond detectors have a number of significant advantages over Si and CZT including faster response, higher resistance to radiation damage, and they are visible blind.
A fast, rad-hard detector will enhance future heliophysics missions designed to image and characterize particle emission from the sun. These would include future generations of LWS, STP and Explorer satellites.
Fast, rad-hard diamond sensors will be used in numerous high-energy physics and synchrotron experiments, such as in the next generation of high energy, high luminosity intensity particle colliders like FCC, FLASH, and the European XFEL. Fast rad-hard sensors will also be used in harsh environments to monitor spent nuclear fuel casks.