The Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) will present the next leap forward in gamma-ray astronomy, pushing beyond the present energy frontier to probe beyond 300 TeV. This capability is provided by the 70 Small Sized Telescopes (SSTs). The SSTs are spread across the four square kilometres of the array to detect the rare, but bright, Cherenkov showers produced by the highest-energy gamma rays.
One proposed camera design for the SSTs is the Compact High Energy Camera (CHEC). Its compact and curved focal plane design is tailored for dual-mirror Schwarzschild-Couder telescopes, making it compatible with two of the three telescope proposals for the SSTs. The latest design of CHEC (known as CHEC-S) utilises silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs); an attractive alternative to traditional photomultiplier tubes, offering improved photon detection efficiency and photoelectron counting resolution for a large dynamic range, across tightly-packed pixels. However, SiPMs suffer from the phenomena of optical crosstalk, which degrades the ability to resolve the number of photons incident on the photosensor. CHEC-S also features full-waveform readout at nanosecond sampling resolution with a flexible trigger scheme. This is facilitated by the TARGET (TeV Array Read-out with GSa/s sampling and Event Trigger) modules attached to the SiPMs.
This contribution describes the concept and technical design of CHEC-S and displays the key performance results, matched against the criteria required for a CTA camera. The limitation caused by the optical crosstalk of the SiPM is highlighted, and the expected performance with more recent iterations of the photosensor technology is also demonstrated.