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The following Engineering Bulletin was released by SBIG for distribution on 1 August 1996:
Enhanced Blue Response CCDs for ST-7/8
August 1, 1996
This Engineering Bulletin describes the engineering effort in place at Kodak and at SBIG to bring the Enhanced Blue Response detectors into place. There is a lot of partial or misinformation floating around about these detectors and hopefully this will answer the many questions users have.
Kodak is developing an Enhanced Blue Response CCD. The information we have from Kodak is that they have a large "internal" customer that has paid for the development of the process they refer to as ITO for increasing the blue sensitivity of one of their large model CCDs (not the KAF-0400 or KAF-1600 used in the ST-7 and ST-8). Once they have that process fully developed they will migrate it to other CCDs like the KAF-0400 and KAF1600 as they feel the market warrants.
At this time Kodak does have a batch of KAF-0400 CCDs available using this process. The CCDs are part number KAF-0400E and are non-antiblooming protected versions of the ITO KAF0400. These detectors cost roughly $300 more per unit than the standard KAF-0400E. Also this time there are no antiblooming protected versions of the ITO KAF-0400 and Kodak says these may be available next near based upon whether they feel there is adequate demand. To my knowledge there are no KAF-1600s available in any form (antiblooming protected or not) in the ITO process. To summarize, at this point in time, the only detectors available with the ITO process are the non-antiblooming KAF-0400E CCDs.
Further, the KAF-0400E CCDs that are available today are pin compatible with the standard KAF0400 but they are not electrically equivalent. The ITO KAF-0400E requires different clock voltages than the standard KAF-0400. Kodak hopes to evolve the ITO process in the future where the parts would be both pin compatible and electrically equivalent.
SBIG is keenly interested in the development of the ITO detectors. We have received KAF-0400E CCDs and are in the process of evaluating these CCDs for use in the ST-7 and ST-8. Unfortunately at this time, the news is not all good. Our evaluation of these CCDs has shown the dark current to be several times higher than the standard detectors, a measurement with which Kodak agrees. Further we are working with Kodak to resolve another issue regarding the suitability of these detectors for Astronomical use that at this time is a stumbling point. I can't say more than that now because Kodak and SBIG don't fully understand the problem as it exists but we are working on resolving it.
Finally, SBIG is committed to bringing the best products to market and to serving our customers. You have my word that when these issues with the Kodak ITO CCDs are resolved SBIG will announce an upgrade program for existing users and availability of these detectors for new purchases. Let's remember that moving the state of technology forward is not an easy task. We've become accustomed to the rate of changes in the Personal Computer industry and that does not always translate into smaller fields like the development of CCDs and related technology.
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