Characterization of scientific-grade CCDs is extremely important if one hopes to attain very precise quantitative results. A number of characterization methods exist that yield accurate and fast properties in order to make simple measurements. As CCDs are pushed to the their operating limit, other, esoteric tests are required. In this situation, such tests become the determining factors for usability of CCDs. The research presented in this dissertation describes two such tests. This work first examines the ultimate signal-to-noise achievable with a back-illuminated CCD. The focus of this research is on the ability of the tested sensor to reach and continuously maintain a very high photometric precision over an extended period of time. This is important for the upcoming Kepler mission, to search for extra-solar Earth-size planets by looking for changes in relative brightness caused by transit of a planet. The results demonstrate that when the effects such as jitter and flat- field are calibrated out, the back-illuminated CCD is essentially a shot- noise- limited relative-photometric detector. Another effect that can provide further understanding of the limits of capabilities of CCDs is how each pixel responds to incident radiation. Therefore, the second half of the thesis is devoted to an experimental measurement of the subpixel spatial variations within the same back-illuminated CCD. The measurements are made using a stable broadband light source and two high-precision translation stages. The experimentally measured pixel response is examined for implications on precise photometric and astrometric measurements in astronomy.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Charge coupled devices--Measurement; Photometry; Astronomical photometry

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


Easton, Roger

Advisor/Committee Member

Fiete, Robert

Advisor/Committee Member

Jodoin, Ronald


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