We have used our revolutionary new detector technology, Optical/Near-IR Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors (MKIDs), to build an instrument of unprecedented capabilities for the direct imaging of extrasolar planets. MEC, the MKID Exoplanet Camera, integrates with the existing SCExAO coronagraph at the Subaru 8-m telescope on Mauna Kea. Like DARKNESS, MEC will significantly improve the star to planet contrast ratio over what can be achieved with a conventional Integral Field Unit (IFU), but it will do it from a bigger telescope at a better site. Advantages over conventional IFUs include:
1. Vastly simplified optical design with high throughput
2. Operation from 800-1400 nm with energy resolution R~10 at 1 micron allows spectral suppression of speckles
3. Zero read noise and zero dark current photon counting enabling active speckle control and time domain speckle discrimination
The MEC Instrument Paper , published in PASP, is available now.
Special Thanks to: