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The Development and Performance of the First BICEP Array Receiver at 30 and 40 GHz for Measuring the Polarized Synchrotron Foreground


Zhang, Cheng (2023) The Development and Performance of the First BICEP Array Receiver at 30 and 40 GHz for Measuring the Polarized Synchrotron Foreground. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/bfsb-6438.


The existence of the CMB marks a big success of the lambda cold dark matter standard model, which describes the universe’s evolution with six free parameters. The inflationary theory was added to the picture in the ’80s to explain the initial conditions of the universe. Scalar perturbations from inflation seeded the formation of the large-scale structure and produced the curl-free E-mode polarization pattern in the CMB. On the other hand, tensor fluctuations sourced primordial gravitational waves (PGW), which could leave unique imprints in the CMB polarization: the gradient-free B-mode pattern. The amplitude of B modes is directly related to the tensor-to-scalar ratio r of the primordial fluctuations, which indicates the energy scale of inflation. The detection of the primordial B modes will be strong supporting evidence of inflation and give us opportunities to study physics at energy scales far beyond what can ever be accessed in laboratory experiments on the Earth.

Currently, the main challenge for the B-mode experiments is to separate the primordial B modes from those sourced by matter between us and the last scattering surface: the galactic foregrounds and the gravitational lensing effect. The two most important foregrounds are thermal dust and synchrotron, which have very different spectral properties from the CMB. Thus the key to foreground cleaning is the high sensitivity data at multiple frequency bands and the accurate modeling of the foregrounds in data analyses and simulations. In this dissertation, I present my work on ISM and dust property studies which enriched our understanding of the foregrounds.

The BICEP/Keck (BK) experiments build a series of polarization-sensitive microwave telescopes targeting degree-scale B-modes from the early universe. The latest publication from the collaboration with data taken through 2018 reported tensor-to-scalar ratio r0.05 < 0.036 at 95% C.L., providing the tightest constraint on the primordial tensor mode.

BICEP Array is the latest generation of the series experiments. The final configuration of the BICEP Array has four BICEP3-class receivers spanning six frequency bands, aiming to achieve σ(r) ≾ 0.003. The first receiver of the BICEP Array is at 30 and 40 GHz, constraining the synchrotron foregrounds. In this dissertation, I cover the development of this new receiver focusing on the design and performance of the detectors. I report on the characterizing and diagnosing tests for the receiver during its first few observing seasons.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Cosmic Microwave Background; cosmology: observations; gravitational waves; inflation; instrumentation: polarimeters; telescopes; Detectors;
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Bock, James J.
Thesis Committee:
  • Golwala, Sunil (chair)
  • Doré, Olivier P.
  • Chen, Yanbei
  • Bock, James J.
Defense Date:10 June 2022
Non-Caltech Author Email:czzhag (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08222022-081848931
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription 3 adapted from "An Imprint of the Galactic Magnetic Field in the Diffuse Unpolarized Dust Emission"
Zhang, Cheng0000-0001-8288-5823
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:15006
Deposited By: Cheng Zhang
Deposited On:30 Aug 2022 19:05
Last Modified:09 Sep 2022 01:07

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