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Characterization of Detectors and Instrument Systematics for the SPIDER CMB Polarimeter


Tucker, Rebecca Suzanne (2014) Characterization of Detectors and Instrument Systematics for the SPIDER CMB Polarimeter. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/HNHF-HA43.


We know from the CMB and observations of large-scale structure that the universe is extremely flat, homogenous, and isotropic. The current favored mechanism for generating these characteristics is inflation, a theorized period of exponential expansion of the universe that occurred shortly after the Big Bang. Most theories of inflation generically predict a background of stochastic gravitational waves. These gravitational waves should leave their unique imprint on the polarization of the CMB via Thompson scattering. Scalar perturbations of the metric will cause a pattern of polarization with no curl (E-mode). Tensor perturbations (gravitational waves) will cause a unique pattern of polarization on the CMB that includes a curl component (B-mode). A measurement of the ratio of the tensor to scalar perturbations (r) tells us the energy scale of inflation. Recent measurements by the BICEP2 team detect the B-mode spectrum with a tensor-to-scalar ratio of r = 0.2 (+0.05, −0.07). An independent confirmation of this result is the next step towards understanding the inflationary universe.

This thesis describes my work on a balloon-borne polarimeter called SPIDER, which is designed to illuminate the physics of the early universe through measurements of the cosmic microwave background polarization. SPIDER consists of six single-frequency, on-axis refracting telescopes contained in a shared-vacuum liquid-helium cryostat. Its large format arrays of millimeter-wave detectors and tight control of systematics will give it unprecedented sensitivity. This thesis describes how the SPIDER detectors are characterized and calibrated for flight, as well as how the systematics requirements for the SPIDER system are simulated and measured.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:CMB, polarization, inflation, bolometer
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Golwala, Sunil
Group:Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Golwala, Sunil (chair)
  • Hirata, Christopher M.
  • Martin, D. Christopher
  • Weinstein, Alan Jay
Defense Date:19 May 2014
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05302014-170605877
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8448
Deposited By: Rebecca Tucker
Deposited On:03 Jun 2014 18:56
Last Modified:26 Oct 2021 17:28

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