We report on the design and performance of the BICEP2 instrument and on its three-year data set. BICEP2 was designed to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) on angular scales of 1°-5°(ℓ = 40-200), near the expected peak of the B-mode polarization signature of primordial gravitational waves from cosmic inflation. Measuring B-modes requires dramatic improvements in sensitivity combined with exquisite control of systematics. The BICEP2 telescope observed from the South Pole with a 26 cm aperture and cold, on-axis, refractive optics. BICEP2 also adopted a new detector design in which beam-defining slot antenna arrays couple to transition-edge sensor (TES) bolometers, all fabricated on a common substrate. The antenna-coupled TES detectors supported scalable fabrication and multiplexed readout that allowed BICEP2 to achieve a high detector count of 500 bolometers at 150 GHz, giving unprecedented sensitivity to B-modes at degree angular scales. After optimization of detector and readout parameters, BICEP2 achieved an instrument noise-equivalent temperature of . The full data set reached Stokes Q and U map depths of 87.2 nK in square-degree pixels (5.′2 μK) over an effective area of 384 deg2 within a 1000 deg2 field. These are the deepest CMB polarization maps at degree angular scales to date. The power spectrum analysis presented in a companion paper has resulted in a significant detection of B-mode polarization at degree scales.
- cosmic background radiation cosmology
- observations gravitational waves inflation instrumentation
- polarimeters telescopes