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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 May 2018

Research article | 08 May 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Photocurrent modelling and experimental confirmation for Meteor Smoke Particle Detectors onboard atmospheric sounding rockets

Gabriel Giono1,2, Boris Strelnikov1, Heiner Asmus1, Tristan Staszak1, Nickolay Ivchenko2, and Franz-Josef Lübken1 Gabriel Giono et al.
  • 1Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the Rostock University (IAP), Kühlungsborn, Germany
  • 2Department of Space and Plasma Physics, School of Electrical Engineering, KTH-Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract. Characterizing the photoelectron current induced by the Sun’s UV radiation is crucial to ensure accurate daylight measurements from particle detectors. This article lays out the methodology used to address this problem in the case of the Meteor Smoke Particle Detectors (MSPDs), developed by the Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Kühlungsborn (IAP) and to be flown onboard the PMWE (Polar Meosphere Winter Echoes) sounding rockets in mid-April 2018. The methodology focuses on two complementary aspects: modelling and experimental measurements. A detailed model of the MSPD photocurrent was created based on the expected solar UV flux, the atmospheric UV absorption as a function of height by molecular oxygen and ozone, the photoelectric yield of the material coating the MSPD as a function of wavelength, the index of refraction of these materials as a function of wavelength and the angle of incidence of the illumination onto the MSPD. Due to its complex structure composed of a central electrode shielded by two concentric grids, extensive ray tracing calculations were conducted to obtain the incidence angles of the illumination on the central electrode, and this for various orientations of the MSPD with respect to the Sun. Results of the modelled photocurrent at different heights and for different materials, as well as for different orientation of the detector, are presented. As a pre-flight confirmation, the model was used to reproduce the experimental measurements conducted by Robertson et. al. (2014) and agrees within an order of magnitude. An experimental setup for the calibration of the MSPD photocurrent is also presented. The photocurrent induced by the Lyman-alpha line from a deuterium lamp was recorded inside a vacuum chamber using a narrow-band filter, while an UV-sensitive photodiode was used to monitor the UV flux. These measurements were compared with the model prediction, and also matched within the same order of magnitude. Although precisely modelling the photocurrent is a challenging task, this article quantitatively improved the understanding of the photocurrent on the MSPD and discusses possible strategies to untangle the MSP current from the photocurrent recorded in-flight.

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Gabriel Giono et al.
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Latest update: 17 Aug 2018
Publications Copernicus
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Short summary
Energetic photons, such as the Sun ultraviolet light, are able to eject electrons from a material surface, therefore creating an electrical current, also called photocurrent. A proper estimation of this photocurrent can be crucial for space or rocket born particle detector, as it can dominate over the current of interest (induced by charged particle for example). This article outlines the recipe for photocurrent modeling and for experimental confirmation in a laboratory.
Energetic photons, such as the Sun ultraviolet light, are able to eject electrons from a...