The BICEP2 instrument was designed to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) on angular scales of 1 to 5 degrees ($\ell$=40-200), near the expected peak of the B-mode polarization signature of primordial gravitational waves from cosmic inflation. Measuring B-modes requires dramatic improvement in sensitivity combined with exquisite control of systematics. We have built on the successful strategy of BICEP1, which achieved the most sensitive limit on B-modes at these scales. The telescope had a 26 cm aperture and cold, on-axis, refractive optics, and it observed from a three-axis mount at the South Pole. BICEP2 adopted a new detector design in which beam-defining slot antenna arrays couple to transition-edge sensor (TES) bolometers, all fabricated monolithically on a common substrate. BICEP2 took advantage of this design’s scalable fabrication and multiplexed SQUID readout to field more detectors than BICEP1, improving mapping speed by more than a factor of ten. In this paper we report on the design and performance of the instrument and on the three-year data set. BICEP2 completed three years of observation with 500 detectors at 150 GHz. After optimization of detector and readout parameters BICEP2 achieved an instrument noise equivalent temperature of 17.0 $\mu$K sqrt(s) and the full data set reached Stokes Q and U map depths of 87.8 nK in square-degree pixels (5.3 $\mu$K arcmin) over an effective area of 390.3 square degrees within a 1000 square degree field. These are the deepest CMB polarization maps at degree angular scales.
BICEP2. Collaboration, P. Ade, R. Aikin, et. al.
Wed, 19 Mar 14