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Terahertz Integral Field Unit with Universal Nanotechnology

Project description

Revolutionary integrated system could deepen understanding of the cosmic web formation

Some regions in our universe, such as galaxies, have a higher density of matter and energy. Other regions seem to be almost void. This contrast of long and intricate galaxy clusters with empty regions forms a cosmic web that is constantly evolving. The EU-funded TIFUUN project will create 3D maps of vast volumes of the universe to uncover the history of matter and better understand galaxies and matter on very large scales. Vital for this endeavor will be development of an instrument – integral field spectrograph – with a superconducting circuit for measuring the far infrared light coming from distant regions of the universe. The proposed technology will first be applied at the Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment in Chile.


"The next challenge in millimeter-submillimeter (mm-submm) astronomy is to generate 3D maps of statistically large cosmic volumes with complete spectral information, to uncover the history of cold matter back to the first billion years of the Universe, the evolution of hot matter in galaxy clusters, and the emergence of cosmic large-scale structure from those baryonic materials.

Vital for this endeavor is the integral field unit (IFU), which is a 2D array of spectrometers that instantaneously measures the spectrum of all points in the image. The IFU has reshaped astronomy at shorter visible wavelengths, but it is totally absent for mm-submm waves, because it falls out of reach of any existing technology.

Here I propose to revolutionize astronomy by developing a Terahertz Integral Field Unit with Universal Nanotechnology (TIFUUN). TIFUUN hosts mm-submm IFUs that each have up to 217 spectrometer pixels (spaxels), a wide instantaneous bandwidth up to 1:2, and a sufficiently high spectral resolving power up to R = 1,000, operating at photon-noise limited sensitivity. The breakthrough is the integrated superconducting spectrometer (ISS) technology, which allows to miniaturize the entire IFU onto a commercial 150-mm diameter silicon wafer.

I will take TIFUUN to the ASTE 10-m telescope with a set of science-tailored IFUs, and perform ground-breaking observations in 1) ultra-wideband spectroscopy of dusty star-forming galaxies, 2) unbiased mapping of high-redshift line-emitting galaxies, 3) line-intensity mapping of the cosmic large-scale structure, and 4) diagnosis of galaxy clusters using the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect. I will make the tools for designing the IFU open source, encouraging the astronomical community to propose science in combination with optimized IFU designs. This cost-effective ""open-hardware"" concept marks a new paradigm that opens the specialized field of superconducting instrumentation to the world, bridging cutting-edge nanotechnology and cosmology."

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 993 579,00
2628 CN Delft

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West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Delft en Westland
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 993 579,00

Beneficiaries (1)