Very high energy gamma-ray astronomy is now bringing an invaluable contribution
to the understanding of violent phenomena in the Universe, as well as the search
for exotic physics such as indirect detection of dark matter or a test of
Lorentz invariance violation. The current Imaging Arrays of Cherenkov Telescopes
(IACT) show that this technique is mature. In Europe, the community is gathering
around the Cherenkov Telescope Array consortium, to design and build the next generation
ground-based array. It should reach an order of magnitude in sensitivity in a
wide energy band, ranging from 10 GeV to more than 100 TeV. This goal can be
achieved with an array of 50–100 telescopes of various sizes at various
spacings. With about 2000 channels per camera, a specific effort has to be made
to design front-end electronics with a lower cost and better performances.
A gain in cost and performances can be obtained by maximising the integration of the
front-end electronics in an ASIC. The amplifiers, analogue memories,
digitization and first level buffering can be embedded in the same component.
We present here the NECTAr project aiming at building a demonstrator element of
a generic camera built around this component.