The Centre for Space and Gravity Research has expertise in the design of scientific instrumentation for ground based and space based experiments, and includes facilities for production and design qualification. The group has a demonstrated capability in the design, test and fabrication of flight instruments to the highest performance levels required for space. Recent developments include control and data processors, instrument structures, interferometer readout systems, data acquisition and control systems, data processing and analysis software.
LISA Pathfinder Phasemeter unit (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna)
Design, build and qualification of the FM readout electronics system for the 32 channel heterodyning interferometer within the Optical Metrology system on LISA Pathfinder.
Inverse Square Law Experiment
Design, build and test of 3 electronics systems and control software to
- Capacitively sense separation and alignment,
- Provide multi channel programmable currents for driving superconducting heat switches, annealing heaters, and superconducting coils.
- Provide multi channel programmable low noise bipolar control currents (to 20 bit resolution) to allow operation of the experiment under closed loop control.
EUCLID Electronics unit (Easy to Use Compact Laser Interferometric Device)
Development of readout electronics for a homodyne interferometer system, intended for both commercial and space applications. The unit incorporates analogue front end, all necessary data processing, and laser current and temperature control.
Advanced LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory)
Design, build and test of Optical Sensor and Electromagnetic Actuator (OSEM) units and Suspension control electronics for the refurbishment of the LIGO gravitational wave observatory. Approximately 750 OSEM units and 1000 control electronics channels have been produced and shipped to the LIGO sites.
In collaboration with Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, build, test and qualification of FM imaging electronics systems, and design, build and qualification of the composite structure, baffles and door release mechanisms for the Heliospheric Imager (HI) system
Build and qualification of the FM data handling unit for SMEI , build and qualification of the 3 FM imaging systems including CCD and cooling system, optics and shutter, door release and light baffle, and data handling system.
Examples of this project work may be found here
Design and Development Facilities
To carry out the work, the group has electronics computer aided design facilities for PCB design, simulation, FPGA design, software development and mathematical modelling and analysis. The group has a large electronics laboratory for general design prototyping and test work. It is equipped with a broad range of general purpose and precision test and measurement equipment.
Group Design Capabilities - Electronics
- Precision Analogue
- 16/18/20 bit systems
- Interferometer readout systems
- Precision and low noise acquisition and control systems
- DSP system design
- FPGA targeted DSP and logic systems and SOC design using VHDL
- Embedded Firmware
- Assembly language
- Radiation tolerant design
- Data acquisition and analysis software
- Labview systems
- Visual basic
- Communications Hardware, Firmware and Software
- Mil-Std 1553
- Power Rail Filtering and Monitoring
- Power Conversion and Distribution
- Design for EMC
- Board level design
- System Design
- Instrument Physical and Functional Specification
- Detailed Design and Documentation
- Requirement Specification
- Interface control
- Design Analysis
- System Budgeting
- Process documentation
- PA, AIV Plans
- Test Plans, procedures and reports
- PCB Production and assembly Data Packages
- Drawing Release and Change Control.
- Non conformance control
- Preparation of user Manuals
- 2D mechanical drafting
- Simple assemblies,
- Jigs and fixtures
Fabrication, Assembly, Integration and Test Facilities
The facilities of the Centre for Space and Gravity Research are now located on the lower-ground floor of the Physics West building. These were recently refurbished and opened in July 2004.
Group Fabrication Capabilities - ElectronicsConventional Assembly of PCBs using SMT and through hole technologies. ESA approved Flight PCB assembly process and certified staff:-
- All hand soldering in accordance with ECSS-Q-70-08
- All SMT soldering in accordance with ECSS-Q-ST-70-38
- All Crimping in accordance with ECSS-Q-70-26
- All rework in accordance with ECSS-Q-70-28
- Control of ESD and electronic component handling in accordance with MIL HDBK 263B
- Production Documentation:
- Process specification
- Component traceability
- PCB production and test logs
- Connector Make-Break logs
- Crimp test records
- Material lists for out-gassing and corrosion control
- Inspection and test reports
- Change Control.
- Non conformance reporting.
Electronics assembly cleanroom - build area (Click on the photograph for further details)
Electronics assembly cleanroom - test and inspection area (Click on the photograph for further details)
There is a custom built clean room for the assembly and test of flight and ground electronics, which also contains the group's dedicated surface mount equipment and inspection systems.
Key features of the electronics clean room include:-
- ISO Class 7 facility with local ISO class 4/5 laminar flow workstation.
- Environmental conditions, temperature (21C ± 2C) and humidity (50% ± 5%) control.
- Anti-static environment.
- Dark Room capability
- Lead preparation and forming of ceramic SMT packages
- Component pre-tinning and de-golding facility
- SMT Solder Stencil machine
- SMT Computer Assisted Manual placement machine
- Vapour Phase reflow system
- Through hole manual soldering and rework facilities
- SMT hot air rework station
- Board Cleaning and bakeout
- Visual inspection facilities with Binocular Microscope and PCB inspection station.
- Crimp testing
IT assembly cleanroom incorporating a wire bonding facility
We also have a dedicated clean area for final Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) of contamination sensitive systems. A parts cleaning room is also incorporated, which enables the cleaning of parts before integration in the AIT clean room. Access to an additional clean tent, located within the Environmental Test Facility, is also provided.
Key features of the AIT facility include:-
- ISO Class 6 clean room with local ISO class 4/5 laminar flow workstation.
- Environmental conditions, temperature (21C ± 1C) and humidity (50% ± 5%) control.
- Anti-static environment.
- Dark room capability.
- Powder coated steel wall construction with conductive epoxy flooring.
- Carbon filters backing up HEPA filters.
- Contamination monitoring capability:-
- Particle monitoring, Lasair 2 particle counter
- Tape lifting to ASTM specifications, black and white light inspection.
- Non-volatile residues can be monitored by swabs and NVR plates to ASTM specifications
- Ultrasonic cleaning of small mechanical parts facility in clean room entrance lobby
Our qualification facilities include a large vacuum chamber with programmable temperature cycling, vacuum bakeout chamber, thermal cycling chamber and Coordinate measurement machine.
Key features of the Environmental Test Facility include:-
- Thermal Vacuum Tank (0.76 x 1.5m), Allowing temperature profiling between -65C and +135C, better than 10E-6 mbar at 25C. Liquid nitrogen cooling can be incorporated if lower temperatures are required.
- RGA and TQCM contamination monitoring if required
- The tank opens to a class 100 clean tent.
- Large connector port
- Liquid nitrogen cold finger inside the chamber
- Data logging of 16 thermocouple channels
- Vacuum Bake out chamber: Operation up to 150C (10E-6 mb at 25C). The Bake out chamber opens to a class 100 clean tent
- Thermal cycling chamber -40C to +125C A gas purge facility is available if required
- Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) accurate to 5 microns over a volume of 1m3 with local ISO class 4/5 hepa filter
Other Facilities include:-
- Wire Bonding facility
- Optical Scanning equipment for measurement of response uniformity of electro-optic devices such as large area photodiodes.
- Oscillator Phase noise measurement system.
- General purpose ISO class 7 cleanroom with local a high flow extract partition and an ISO class 4/5 laminar flow workstation
- Chemical preparation room with fume extraction and localised ISO class 4/5 hepa filter.
The group has access to a mechanical workshop, which can fabricate custom mechanical components and assemblies in a variety of metals and materials using an extensive range of both manually operated and CNC controlled machining equipment
For further information about using our equipment and facilities, please contact:-
D.Hoyland BEng CEng MIET
Tel: 0121 414 6466
Tel: 0121 414 6471