Infrared detectors enable spectacular infrared astronomy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Major advances in infrared astronomy have been enabled by new technologies-from the first example of infrared astronomy using the vacuum thermocouple to the expansion of the field into the thermal infrared using the Ge:Ga bolometer. The introduction of high-performance detector arrays had an even more profound influence through the James Webb Space Telescope: it is the rapid and exciting development of these arrays that built the case for this major investment in breakthrough astronomy. The arrays were developed in defense-oriented aerospace firms, making the mechanisms for delivering them to astronomers eccentric. This article describes this formative era for infrared astronomy with arrays and how it led to the incredible devices now strutting their stuff on James Webb Space Telescope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20230065
JournalAstronomische Nachrichten
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023


  • history and philosophy of astronomy
  • instrumentation: detectors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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