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Loral CCDs are designed by Loral (part of Ford-Aerospace), or John Geary, produced by Loral, and then thinned by Mike Lesser.
The Loral/Lesser route for large, thinned chips is clearly very interesting. The experience of getting Loral foundry chips is good, but only a limited number have been thinned. We seem to rely on Mike Lesser for thinning at present. We respect his abilities, but worry about his workload! It does seem unlikely that Loral-Fairchild is a secure source beyond the end of this year. The (experimental) performance of some of Lesser's chips looks excellent, but this does not seem an overriding factor in choosing his thinning approach.
For low-noise spectroscopic chips we were a bit worried to discover that the NOAO (thinned) chips needed a preflash. Also noise levels of order were reported for thinned Loral chips (cf. lower figures for thick ones).
Mike had just finished assembling a mosaic of thinned chips for NOAO. Unfortunately, due to a contact/bond problem (it seems) the whole array did not work! He hopes to solve this soon. He has successfully thinned the non-buttable Loral chips, as well as the NOAO devices.
Mike also plans to investigate the measured high level of IR fringing in the current thinned chips (as at NOAO).
Loral are currently trying to make a second batch of chips to see if they can work. The failure of the earlier batch is attributed to a poor quality batch of silicon.
Loral are moving , and it is not clear that the Newport Beach plant will be able to provide foundry chips after they have completed their current batches. The latest news (Fri Sep 9 14:56:34 BST 1994 ) is that Silicon CCD production at Newport Beach will cease operation by September 1994; there is hence still some urgency if anyone wants any last orders.