Sensor research and technology

The Technology programme of SRON develops world-class enabling technology for SRON’s programmes on astrophysics and earth science. Aiming for scientific and technical excellence, the enabling technology is a strategic tool for SRON in the creation and optimal use of space flight opportunities. Head of the Technology programme is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SRON has an in-house cleanroom and ample cryogenic test facilities for efficient research with a short turn-around time. The activities of the Technology programme also include work on demonstrator instruments as a stepping stone towards technology readiness for a final instrument. The development programmes are performed in close cooperation with other research institutes (worldwide) in order to share, or jointly develop, specific expertise.

Cryogenic sensor arrays

The sensor development concentrates on superconducting detectors, typically working at a temperature of 100 mK (-273 C) as this will lead to detectors with the ultimate sensitivity. In addition, almost all development concentrates on arrays of sensors as that will lead to instruments with high efficiency and imaging capabilities. The array development also implies that dedicated read-out electronics needs to be developed.


SRON's TES-bolometers, along with Frequency Domain Multiplexed read-out electronics, have been selected for the SAFARI instrument on the Japanese SPICA satellite. In the X-ray regime, the TES-microcalorimeters and multiplexed read-out are under consideration for the X-ray Microcalorimeters Spectrometer instrument on board the IXO satellite (ESA/NASA/JAXA). When going to high-sensitivity, large format arrays (10.000 pixels), Kinetic Inductance Detectors are expected to play a major role in future space- and ground based instrument. Hot Electron Bolometers Mixers allow for high-resolution spectroscopy in the THz regime. Immersed gratings have opened the way for spectrometers which are typically 40-times smaller (and lighter) than conventional spectrometers and the SRON gratings will be used in TROPOMI.