KIDSpec - the Kinetic Inductance Detector Spectrograph


KIDSPEC is a concept for a highly efficient, medium spectral resolution wide band-pass astronomical spectrograph. The unique feature of KIDSpec is that at its heart, it contains and array of Kinetic Inductance Detectors (KIDs). These are energy sensitive detectors that can measure the energy (to ~10% at present) and the arrival time of single photons (to ~1microsecond). When used in conjunction with a diffraction grating, the intrinsic energy resolution in each pixel allows you to separate the light from multiple diffraction orders. This is analogous to adding a cross-disperser in an Echelle spectrograph, but without the losses from the grating and the additional optical complexity. The photon-counting nature of KIDs enables much more sensitive measurements and improved sky background subtraction.

Current status

We have received funding from the STFC Project Research and Development (PRD) scheme. This funding will enable us to perform demonstrations of the key technologies for KIDSpec in advance of applying for funding to build the first KIDSpec instrument.


The Oxford KIDSpec team includes Kieran O'Brien, Sumedh Mahashabde, Rupert Dodkins, Ghassan Yassin, Niranjan Thatte, Mike Jones and Angela Taylor. Our collaborators in the project include Stafford Withington (Cambridge University), Ben Mazin (UCSB) and Ian Hepburn (MSSL).

Further reading

The KIDspec concept is summarized in KIDSPEC SPIE paper