Space-based gravitational wave detection will be carried out by the laser interferometer space antenna (LISA), a joint European Space Agency and NASA collaboration. The configuration of this antenna will include three identical spacecraft in a triangular formation separated by 2.5×106km, flying in a drag-free formation around free-falling test masses. Charging of the test masses by cosmic ray fluxes and solar energetic particles must be compensated by photons that contain more energy than the effective work function of gold (4.3±0.4eV). The UV photons will be provided by AlGaN light emitting diodes, which must operate reliably for the duration of the mission. We have tested a large number (96 for dc and pulsed testing, more than 200 for all tests) of UV LEDs over a period of up to 600 days to characterize their performance over a wide range of operating conditions, assessing the lifetime performance under dc (1–80mA drive current) and pulsed conditions (500–100 000 pulses per second) and temperatures ranging from 20 to 80°C. Degradation of UV light output is faster at elevated temperatures and dc conditions. Preselection of LEDs based on initial spectral ratio of peak-to-midgap emission and ideality factor provides a positive correlation with subsequent reliability. The UV LEDs used for LISA will need to support 2 years of cruise and commissioning plus a 4-year baseline science mission.

You do not currently have access to this content.