The use of some specific compound semiconductors in the fabrication of high energy X-ray detectors shows significant potential for X-ray astrophysics space missions. We are currently investigating three high purity crystals - CdZnTe, GaAs and TlBr - as the basis for future hard X-ray detectors (above 10 keV). In this paper we present the first results on CdZnTe and GaAs based detectors and evaluate the factors currently still constraining the performance.
Energy resolutions (FWHM) of 0.9 keV and 1.1 keV at 14 keV and 60 keV, respectively, have been obtained with an epitaxial GaAs detector, while 0.7 keV and 1.5 keV FWHM were measured at the same energies with a CdZnTe detector. Based on these results it is clear, that the next generation of X-ray astrophysics missions now in the planning phase may well consider extending the photon energy range up to ∼100 keV by use of efficient detectors with reasonable spectroscopic capabilities.