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Proceedings of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (Cryogenic Optical Systems and Instruments)



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Electron irradiation experiments have investigated the diverse electron-induced optical and electrical signatures observed in ground-based tests of various space observatory materials at low temperature. Three types of light emission were observed: (i); long-duration cathodoluminescence which persisted as long as the electron beam was on (ii) short-duration (<1 s) arcing, resulting from electrostatic discharge; and (iii) intermediate-duration (~100 s) glow—termed “flares”. We discuss how the electron currents and arcing—as well as light emission absolute intensity and frequency—depend on electron beam energy, power, and flux and the temperature and thickness of different bulk (polyimides, epoxy resins, and silica glasses) and composite dielectric materials (disordered SiO2 thin films, carbon- and fiberglass-epoxy composites, and macroscopically-conductive carbon-loaded polyimides). We conclude that electron-induced optical emissions resulting from interactions between observatory materials and the space environment electron flux can, in specific circumstances, make significant contributions to the stray light background that could possibly adversely affect the performance of space-based observatories.


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