Delivery of the Warm Front-End Electronics Demonstrator Model

Delivery to CNES on November 8, 2023, of the Warm Front-End Electronics (WFEE) Demonstrator Model, developed at APC for the ATHENA X-IFU instrument

On November 8 2023, Damien Prêle (X-IFU instrument Co-I and WFEE project manager) along with Manuel Gonzalez (WFEE instrument scientist) and Horacio Arnaldi (instrumentation Post Doc) reviewed all of the WFEE functionalities in front of the CNES project teams. CNES then validated the delivery of the WFEE demonstration model which will soon be coupled, in Toulouse, to the digital acquisition electronics, and to the cryogenic detection chain for the continuation of the instrument demonstration.

The WFEE readout electronics, called "warm" by contrast to the detectors cooled to 50 mK, are the responsibility of the APC. It draws on APC’s expertise in “readout chain and ultra-low noise ASIC”.

The creation of a demonstration model really began in 2020 after the redefinition of the readout chain by the X-IFU consortium. The AwaXe_v3 ASICs which equip the 8 readout channels of this equipment were defined during the covid confinement, by Si Chen, micro-electronic designer @ APC. What followed were 3 years of development and assemblies of electronic cards, and mechanical and thermal tests (notably with Alain Givaudan and Maël Le Cam, mechanical engineers) to arrive at a subset of the detection chain of the X-IFU instrument. The result of the work of a team of nearly 10 people now makes it possible to polarize 8x32 superconducting detectors, to polarize the chains of multiplexers also cryogenic and to amplify the detector signals with a very low gain drift - a guarantee of sensitivity of the instrument.
This delivery took place while a group of experts designated by the ESA (Athena Science Redefinition Team - SRDT) has just submitted a report which relaunches the ATHENA mission to the rank of "ESA Flagship" mission after a period of "budgetary uncertainty »  (Cf Email SF2A No 1062 - 13/11/23 and

  • Athena
  • demonstrator model
  • instrument X-IFU
  • WFEE demonstration model.


  • Électronique - Micro Électronique
  • Mécanique
  • Astrophysique à Haute Energie

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