Commentary: JWST near-infrared detector degradation-finding the problem, fixing the problem, and moving forward

Bernard J. Rauscher, Carl Stahle, Robert J. Hill, Matthew Greenhouse, James Beletic, Sachidananda Babu, Peter Blake, Keith Cleveland, Emmanuel Cofie, Bente Eegholm, C. W. Engelbracht, Donald N.B. Hall, Alan Hoffman, Basil Jeffers, Christine Jhabvala, Randy A. Kimble, Stanley Kohn, Robert Kopp, Don Lee, Henning LeideckerDon Lindler, Robert E. McMurray, Karl Misselt, D. Brent Mott, Raymond Ohl, Judith L. Pipher, Eric Piquette, Dan Polis, Jim Pontius, Marcia Rieke, Roger Smith, W. E. Tennant, Liqin Wang, Yiting Wen, Christopher N.A. Willmer, Majid Zandian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The JamesWebb Space Telescope (JWST) is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. JWST will be an infrared-optimized telescope, with an approximately 6.5 m diameter primary mirror, that is located at the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrange point. Three of JWST's four science instruments use Teledyne HgCdTe HAWAII-2RG (H2RG) near infrared detector arrays. During 2010, the JWST Project noticed that a few of its 5 ìm cutoff H2RG detectors were degrading during room temperature storage, and NASA chartered a "Detector Degradation Failure Review Board" (DD-FRB) to investigate. The DD-FRB determined that the root cause was a design flaw that allowed indium to interdiffuse with the gold contacts and migrate into the HgCdTe detector layer. Fortunately, Teledyne already had an improved design that eliminated this degradation mechanism. During early 2012, the improved H2RG design was qualified for flight and JWST began making additional H2RGs. In this article, we present the two public DD-FRB "Executive Summaries" that: (1) determined the root cause of the detector degradation and (2) defined tests to determine whether the existing detectors are qualified for flight.We supplement these with a brief introduction to H2RG detector arrays, some recent measurements showing that the performance of the improved design meets JWST requirements, and a discussion of how the JWST Project is using cryogenic storage to retard the degradation rate of the existing flight spare H2RGs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number021901
JournalAIP Advances
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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