Thermal Simulations of Temperature Excursions on the Athena X-IFU Detector Wafer from Impacts by Cosmic Rays

S. L. Stever, P. Peille, M. P. Bruijn, A. Roussafi, S. Lotti, C. Macculi, R. M.J. Janssen, R. den Hartog

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


We present the design and implementation of a thermal model, developed in COMSOL, aiming to probe the wafer-scale thermal response arising from realistic rates and energies of cosmic rays at L2 impacting the detector wafer of Athena X-IFU. The wafer thermal model is a four-layer 2D model, where two layers represent the constituent materials (Si bulk and Si3N4 membrane) and two layers represent the Au metallization layer’s phonon and electron temperatures. We base the simulation geometry on the current specifications for the X-IFU detector wafer and simulate cosmic ray impacts using a simple power injection into the Si bulk. We measure the temperature at the point of the instrument’s most central TES detector. By probing the response of the system and pulse characteristics as a function of the thermal input energy and location, we reconstruct cosmic ray pulses in Python. By utilizing this code, along with the results of the GEANT4 simulations produced for X-IFU, we produce realistic time-ordered data (TOD) of the temperature seen by the central TES, which we use to simulate the degradation of the energy resolution of the instrument in space-like conditions on this wafer. We find a degradation to the energy resolution of 7 keV X-rays of ≈ 0.04 eV. By modifying wafer parameters and comparing the simulated TOD, this study is a valuable tool for probing design changes on the thermal background seen by the detectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-274
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Low Temperature Physics
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmic ray
  • Particle interactions
  • Systematic effects
  • X-ray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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