The spectral responsivity of two cryogenically cooled InSb detectors was observed to drift slowly with time. The origin of these drifts was investigated and was shown to occur due to a water-ice thin film that was deposited onto the active areas of the cold detectors. The presence of the ice film (which is itself a dielectric film) modifies the transmission characteristics of the antireflection coatings deposited on the active areas of the detectors, thus giving rise to the observed drifts. The magnitude of the drifts was drastically reduced by evacuating the detector dewars while baking them at 50 °C for approximately 48 h. All InSb detectors have antireflection coatings to reduce the Fresnel reflections and therefore enhance their spectral responsivity. This work demonstrates that InSb infrared detectors should be evacuated and baked at least annually and in some cases (depending on the quality of the dewar and the measurement uncertainty required) more frequently. These observations are particularly relevant to InSb detectors mounted in dewars that use rubber O rings since the ingress of moisture was found to be particularly serious in this type of dewar.
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E. H. Putley
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