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A250CF CoolFET® Charge Sensitive Preamplifier - Obsolete/Discontinued after 2020

The Amptek A250CF CoolFET® Charge Sensitive Preamplifier is the lowest noise, general purpose, preamplifier available. It is designed to give the ultimate performance when used with either low or high detector capacitance detectors and is a direct replacement for other higher noise charge sensitive preamplifiers.

The A250CF CoolFET® technology uses a thermoelectric (Peltier) cooler to keep the input FET(s) at -50 °C. Cooling is totally transparent to the user. Hence, the A250CF CoolFET® operates like a room temperature preamplifier. Based on the successful A250 charge sensitive preamplifier designed for high performance, the A250CF CoolFET® re-defines the new state-of-the-art.

Power to the A250CF CoolFET® is provided by an external stable power supply (included). Detector bias can be applied via an SHV connector. Input, E-Output, T-Output and Test are provided via BNC connectors.

CoolFET® is a registered trademark of Amptek Inc.


  • Thermoelectrically Cooled FET
  • Noise: 670 eV FWHM (Si), ~76 electrons RMS
  • 3 FETs to match detector
  • Noise Slope: 13 eV/pF with low Ciss FET
    11.5 eV/pF with high Ciss FET
  • Fast Rise Time: 2.5 ns
  • AC or DC coupling to the detector
  • Easy to use
  • Both Energy and Timing outputs
  • Optional input protection

A250CF CoolFET® Noise as a Function of Detector Input Capacitance (2 µs shaping time constant).

  • Specifications +



    Noise at 0 pF
    2 µs shaping
    keV FWHM e RMS Coulombs RMS
    Low Ciss FET 0.670 (DC coupled); 1.00 (AC coupled 400 MΩ bias resistor) 76 (DC); 113 (AC) 1.2×10-17 (DC); 1.81×10-17 (AC)
    High Ciss FET 0.850 (DC coupled); 1.20 (AC coupled 400 MΩ bias resistor) 96 (DC); 136 (AC) 1.5×10-17 (DC); 2.2×10-17 (AC)
    Noise Slope Low Ciss: 13 (eV/pF)
    High Ciss: 11.5 (eV/pF)

    Typical noise data for A250CF CoolFET®. The noise depends on (1) the detector capacitance, (2) input configuration (AC vs DC coupling, use of input protection), and (3) which CoolFET is used.

    FET Capacitance

    Low Ciss (FET 1 and 2) 8 pF
    High Ciss (FET 3) 60 pF

    General Characteristics

    Rise Time 2.5 ns (0 pF and no output buffer)
    Decay Time Constant (T=Rf*Cf) 2 GOhms x 0.5 pF = 1ms
    Cf = 0.5 pF
    Gain of 2 in the output buffer
    176 mV/MeV (Si)
    220 mV/MeV (Ge)
    144 mV/MeV (CdTe)
    152 mV/MeV (HgI2)
    4 V/pC
    0. 64 µV/electron
    Integral Nonlinearity < 0.03%
    Detector Input Positive or negative
    Detector Bias Voltage Maximum 1 kV, positive or negative, from a power supply
    Test Input Voltage pulses for system test and calibration
    Energy (E) Output Provides an output voltage step proportional to the input charge.
    Polarity adjustable.
    DC offset adjustable.
    Timing (T) Output Provides a tail pulse (1 µs decay) for system timing measurements.
    Polarity adjustable.
    Amplitude equal to E output.
    Output Impedance
    (Both E and T)
    50 Ohms
    Dynamic Range ±4 V, offset adjustable to ±6 V

    Power and Connections

    Input, Test, Energy (E), Timing (T) BNC
    Bias SHV
    Power 5 V DC at 1.6 A (AC power adapter included)
  • Description +


    The A250CF CoolFET® is a charge sensitive preamplifier. The input to the preamplifier is the signal from a radiation detector, a current pulse of short duration (ms or less). The total energy deposited is proportional to the total charge generated.

    The primary output of A250CF (the energy output) is a voltage step proportional to the input charge, the time integral of the current pulse, with a gain of 176 mV/MeV (Si). This step has a fast rise (the rise time of the A250CF is 2.5 ns for 0 capacitance) and a slow decay to baseline (1 ms). This energy output is generally sent to a shaping amplifier and is used for spectroscopic measurements. The timing output has a much faster decay, 1 µs, and is used as the input to a timing circuit.

    The A250CF consists of several main function blocks. The core of the preamplifier is the charge amplifier itself, which consists of the CoolFET hybrid, the A250 amplifier, and the feedback components. This circuit produces the voltage output for a current input, and determines the output noise and rise time.

    The series noise of a preamplifier is at its minimum when the input capacitance is comparable to the FET capacitance. The A250CF includes a jumper that permit the user to select 1 of 3 FETs, to match capacitance. Jumpers are used to connect the gates to the input, to connect the commensurate drains, and to select the proper drain resistor, to set the drain current.

    There are additional circuit elements in the A250CF, including (1) connections to detector bias, (2) optional input protection circuitry (enabled when shipped from the factory), (3) a test input, (4) an amplifier which buffers the energy output and provides for polarity and offset adjustments, (5) an amplifier which buffers the timing output and provides for polarity adjustment, and (6) power supply circuitry.

    CoolFET® is a registered trademark of Amptek Inc.

    Figure 2. A250CF CoolFET® Block Diagram.

    CoolFET® Hybrid

    The CoolFET® hybrid contains three (3) FETs that are placed on top of a thermoelectric cooler and enclosed in a TO-8 package. There are two main advantages to cooling the FET: it reduces the leakage current and increases the transconductance, both of which reduce the electronic noise of the system. The increased transconductance provides a much improved noise slope (eV/pF) over un-cooled systems, which is especially important for large capacitance detectors.

  • Mechanicals +

    Size 3.5” (8.89 cm) x 2.5“ (6.35 cm) x 1.375″ (3.49 cm)
    Weight 2 oz (62 g)

    Figure 3. Front view: Detector Input.

    Figure 4. Back view: E and T Outputs, Test Input, HV Bias, Input Power.
  • Documentation +