High quality factor manganese-doped aluminum lumped-element kinetic inductance detectors sensitive to frequencies below 100 GHz [IMA]


Aluminum lumped-element kinetic inductance detectors (LEKIDs) sensitive to millimeter-wave photons have been shown to exhibit high quality factors, making them highly sensitive and multiplexable. The superconducting gap of aluminum limits aluminum LEKIDs to photon frequencies above 100 GHz. Manganese-doped aluminum (Al-Mn) has a tunable critical temperature and could therefore be an attractive material for LEKIDs sensitive to frequencies below 100 GHz if the internal quality factor remains sufficiently high when manganese is added to the film. To investigate, we measured some of the key properties of Al-Mn LEKIDs. A prototype eight-element LEKID array was fabricated using a 40 nm thick film of Al-Mn deposited on a 500 {\mu}m thick high-resistivity, float-zone silicon substrate. The manganese content was 900 ppm, the measured $T_c = 694\pm1$ mK, and the resonance frequencies were near 150 MHz. Using measurements of the forward scattering parameter $S_{21}$ at various bath temperatures between 65 and 250 mK, we determined that the Al-Mn LEKIDs we fabricated have internal quality factors greater than $2 \times 10^5$, which is high enough for millimeter-wave astrophysical observations. In the dark conditions under which these devices were measured, the fractional frequency noise spectrum shows a shallow slope that depends on bath temperature and probe tone amplitude, which could be two-level system noise. The anticipated white photon noise should dominate this level of low-frequency noise when the detectors are illuminated with millimeter-waves in future measurements. The LEKIDs responded to light pulses from a 1550 nm light-emitting diode, and we used these light pulses to determine that the quasiparticle lifetime is 60 {\mu}s.

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G. Jones, B. Johnson, M. Abitbol, et. al.
Tue, 31 Jan 17

Comments: 5 pages, 4 figures


Vortex buoyancy in superfluid and superconducting neutron stars [HEAP]


Buoyancy of proton vortices is considered as one of the important mechanisms of magnetic field expulsion from the superconducting interiors of neutron stars. Here we show that the generally accepted expression for the buoyancy force is not correct and should be modified. The correct expression is derived for both neutron and proton vortices. It is argued that this force is already contained in the coarse-grained hydrodynamics of Bekarevich & Khalatnikov and its various multifluid extensions, but is absent in the hydrodynamics of Hall. Some potentially interesting buoyancy-related effects are briefly discussed.

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V. Dommes and M. Gusakov
Wed, 25 Jan 17

Comments: 6 pages, accepted for publication in MNRAS Letters

Microscopic Study of ${}^1{S_0}$ Superfluidity in Dilute Neutron Matter [CL]


Singlet $S$-wave superfluidity of dilute neutron matter is studied within the correlated BCS method, which takes into account both pairing and short-range correlations. First, the equation of state (EOS) of normal neutron matter is calculated within the Correlated Basis Function (CBF) method in lowest cluster order using the ${}^1{S_0}$ and ${}^3P$ components of the Argonne $V_{18}$ potential, assuming trial Jastrow-type correlation functions. The ${}^1{S_0}$ superfluid gap is then calculated with the corresponding component of the Argonne $V_{18}$ potential and the optimally determined correlation functions. The dependence of our results on the chosen forms for the correlation functions is studied, and the role of the $P$-wave channel is investigated. Where comparison is meaningful, the values obtained for the ${}^1{S_0}$ gap within this simplified scheme are consistent with the results of similar and more elaborate microscopic methods.

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G. Pavlou, E. Mavrommatis, C. Moustakidis, et. al.
Thu, 8 Dec 16

Comments: 9 pages, 6 figures

Nonequilibrium interpretation of DC properties of NbN superconducting hot electron bolometers [CL]


We present a physically consistent interpretation of the dc electrical properties of niobiumnitride (NbN)-based superconducting hot-electron bolometer (HEB-) mixers, using concepts of nonequilibrium superconductivity. Through this we clarify what physical information can be extracted from the resistive transition and the dc current-voltage characteristics, measured at suitably chosen temperatures, and relevant for device characterization and optimization. We point out that the intrinsic spatial variation of the electronic properties of disordered superconductors, such as NbN, leads to a variation from device to device.

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M. Shcherbatenko, I. Tretyakov, Y. Lobanov, et. al.
Fri, 7 Oct 16

Comments: N/A

Magnetic field dependence of the internal quality factor and noise performance of lumped-element kinetic inductance detectors [IMA]


We present a technique for increasing the internal quality factor of kinetic inductance detectors (KIDs) by nulling ambient magnetic fields with a properly applied magnetic field. The KIDs used in this study are made from thin-film aluminum, they are mounted inside a light-tight package made from bulk aluminum, and they are operated near $150 \, \mathrm{mK}$. Since the thin-film aluminum has a slightly elevated critical temperature ($T_\mathrm{c} = 1.4 \, \mathrm{K}$), it therefore transitions before the package ($T_\mathrm{c} = 1.2 \, \mathrm{K}$), which also serves as a magnetic shield. On cooldown, ambient magnetic fields as small as approximately $30 \, \mathrm{\mu T}$ can produce vortices in the thin-film aluminum as it transitions because the bulk aluminum package has not yet transitioned and therefore is not yet shielding. These vortices become trapped inside the aluminum package below $1.2 \, \mathrm{K}$ and ultimately produce low internal quality factors in the thin-film superconducting resonators. We show that by controlling the strength of the magnetic field present when the thin film transitions, we can control the internal quality factor of the resonators. We also compare the noise performance with and without vortices present, and find no evidence for excess noise beyond the increase in amplifier noise, which is expected with increasing loss.

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D. Flanigan, B. Johnson, M. Abitbol, et. al.
Thu, 22 Sep 16

Comments: 5 pages, 4 figures

Microscopic Calculations of Vortex-Nucleus Interaction in the Neutron Star Crust [CL]


We investigate the dynamics of a quantized vortex and a nuclear impurity immersed in a neutron superfluid within a fully microscopic time-dependent three-dimensional approach. The magnitude and even the sign of the force between the quantized vortex and the nuclear impurity have been a matter of debate for over four decades. We determine that the vortex and the impurity repel at neutron densities, 0.014 fm$^{-3}$ and 0.031 fm$^{-3}$, which are relevant to the neutron star crust and the origin of glitches, while previous calculations have concluded that the force changes its sign between these two densities and predicted contradictory signs. The magnitude of the force increases with the density of neutron superfluid, while the magnitude of the pairing gap decreases in this density range.

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K. Sekizawa, G. Wlazlowski, P. Magierski, et. al.
Wed, 14 Sep 16

Comments: 4 pages, 2 figures, Talk given at the 14th International Symposium on “Nuclei in the Cosmos” (NIC-XIV), June 19-24, 2016, Toki Messe, Niigata, Japan

Superconducting NbTiN Thin Films with Highly Uniform Properties over a 100 mm diameter Wafer [IMA]


Uniformity in thickness and electronic properties of superconducting niobium titanium nitride (NbTiN) thin films is a critical issue for upscaling superconducting electronics, such as microwave kinetic inductance detectors for submillimeter wave astronomy. In this article we make an experimental comparison between the uniformity of NbTiN thin films produced by two DC magnetron sputtering systems with vastly different target sizes: the Nordiko 2000 equipped with a circular 100mm diameter target, and the Evatec LLS801 with a rectangular target of 127 mm x 444.5 mm. In addition to the films deposited staticly in both systems, we have also deposited films in the LLS801 while shuttling the substrate in front of the target, with the aim of further enhancing the uniformity. Among these three setups, the LLS801 system with substrate shuttling has yielded the highest uniformity in film thickness (+/-2%), effective resistivity (decreasing by 5% from center to edge), and superconducting critical temperature (T_c = 15.0 K – 15.3 K) over a 100 mm diameter wafer. However, the shuttling appears to increase the resistivity by almost a factor of 2 compared to static deposition. Surface SEM inspections suggest that the shuttling could have induced a different mode of microstructural film growth.

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D. Thoen, B. Bos, E. Haalebos, et. al.
Wed, 7 Sep 16

Comments: IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, Applied Superconductor Conference 2016, 5 pages, 3 figures

Reactive magnetron sputter deposition of superconducting niobium titanium nitride thin films with different target sizes [CL]


The superconducting critical temperature (Tc>15 K) of niobium titanium nitride (NbTiN) thin films allows for low-loss circuits up to 1.1 THz, enabling on-chip spectroscopy and multi-pixel imaging with advanced detectors. The drive for large scale detector microchips is demanding NbTiN films with uniform properties over an increasingly larger area. This article provides an experimental comparison between two reactive d.c. sputter systems with different target sizes: a small target (100 mm diameter) system and a large target (127 mm x 444.5 mm) one, with the aim of improving the film uniformity using the large target system. We focus on the Tc of the films and I-V characteristics of the sputter plasma, and we find that both systems are capable of depositing films with Tc>15 K. We find that these films are deposited within the transition from metallic to compound sputtering, at the point where target nitridation most strongly depends on nitrogen flow. Key in the deposition optimization is to increase the system’s pumping speed and gas flows to counteract the hysteretic effects induced by the target size. Using the I-V characteristics as a guide proves to be an effective way to optimize a reactive sputter system, for it can show whether the optimal deposition regime is hysteresis-free and accessible.

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B. Bos, D. Thoen, E. Haalebos, et. al.
Tue, 6 Sep 16

Comments: Presented at Applied Superconductivity Conference 2016. Consists of 5 pages and 4 figures

Surprises with Nonrelativistic Naturalness [CL]


We explore the landscape of technical naturalness for nonrelativistic systems, finding surprises which challenge and enrich our relativistic intuition already in the simplest case of a single scalar field. While the immediate applications are expected in condensed matter and perhaps in cosmology, the study is motivated by the leading puzzles of fundamental physics involving gravity: The cosmological constant problem and the Higgs mass hierarchy problem.

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P. Horava
Wed, 24 Aug 16

Comments: 15 pages, a few figures

$^3P_2$ Superfluids Are Topological [CL]


We clarify the topology of the $^3P_2$ superfluidity which is expected to be realized in the cores of neutron stars and cubic odd-parity superconductors. The phase diagram includes the unitary uniaxial/biaxial nematic phases and nonunitary ferromagnetic and cyclic phases. We here show that the low-energy structures of all the phases are governed by different types of topologically protected gapless fermionic excitations: Surface Majorana fermions in nematic phases, single itinerant Majorana fermion in the ferromagnetic phase, and a quartet of itinerant Majorana fermions in the cyclic phase. Using the superfluid Fermi liquid theory, we also demonstrate that dihedral-two and -four biaxial nematic phases are thermodynamically favored in the weak coupling limit under a magnetic field. The mass acquisition of surface Majorana fermions in nematic phases is subject to symmetry.

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T. Mizushima, K. Masuda and M. Nitta
Tue, 2 Aug 16

Comments: 6 pages, 3 figures + 6 pages, 2 figures (supplementary material)

Relativistic dynamics of superfluid-superconducting mixtures in the presence of topological defects and the electromagnetic field, with application to neutron stars [CL]


The relativistic dynamic equations are derived for a superfluid-superconducting mixture coupled to the electromagnetic field. For definiteness and bearing in mind possible applications of our results to neutron stars, it is assumed that the mixture is composed of superfluid neutrons, superconducting protons, and normal electrons. Proton superconductivity of both I and II types is analysed, and possible presence of neutron and proton vortices (or magnetic domains in the case of type-I proton superconductivity) is allowed for. The derived equations neglect all dissipative effects except for the mutual friction dissipation and are valid for arbitrary temperatures (i.e. they do not imply that all nucleons are paired), which is especially important for magnetar conditions. It is demonstrated that these general equations can be substantially simplified for typical neutron stars, for which a kind of magnetohydrodynamic approximation is justified. Our results are compared to the nonrelativistic formulations existing in the literature and a discrepancy is found. Namely, it is shown that, generally, the electric displacement ${\pmb D}$ does not coincide with the electric field ${\pmb E}$, contrary to what is stated in the previous works. The relativistic framework developed here is easily extendable to account for more sophisticated microphysics models and it provides the necessary basis for realistic modelling of neutron stars.

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M. Gusakov and V. Dommes
Thu, 7 Jul 16

Comments: 39 pages, submitted to PRD, comments welcome

AC bias characterization of low noise bolometers for SAFARI using an Open-Loop Frequency Domain SQUID-based multiplexer operating between 1 and 5 MHz [CL]


SRON is developing the Frequency Domain Multiplexing (FDM) readout and the ultra low NEP TES bolometers array for the infrared spectrometer SAFARI on board of the Japanese space mission SPICA. The FDM prototype of the instrument requires critical and complex optimizations. For single pixel characterization under AC bias we are developing a simple FDM system working in the frequency range from 1 to 5 MHz, based on the open loop read-out of a linearized two-stage SQUID amplifier and high Q lithographic LC resonators. We describe the details of the experimental set-up required to achieve low power loading (< 1 fW) and low noise (NEP $\sim 10^{-19} W/Hz^{1/2}$) in the TES bolometers. We conclude the paper by comparing the performance of a $4 \cdot 10^{-19} W/Hz^{1/2}$ TES bolometer measured under DC and AC bias.

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L. Gottardi, M. Bruijn, J. Gao, et. al.
Tue, 12 Apr 16

Comments: 6 pages, 5 figures

Development of TES-based detectors array for the X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) on the future x-ray observatory ATHENA [IMA]


We are developing transition-edge sensor (TES)-based microcalorimeters for the X-ray Integral Field Unit (XIFU) of the future European X-Ray Observatory Athena. The microcalorimeters are based on TiAu TESs coupled to 250{\mu}m squared, AuBi absorbers. We designed and fabricated devices with different contact geometries between the absorber and the TES to optimise the detector performance and with different wiring topology to mitigate the self-magnetic field. The design is tailored to optimise the performance under Frequency Domain Multiplexing. In this paper we review the main design feature of the pixels array and we report on the performance of the 18 channels, 2-5MHz frequency domain multiplexer that will be used to characterised the detector array.

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L. Gottardi, H. Akamatsu, D. Barret, et. al.
Tue, 5 Apr 16

Comments: 9 pages, 8 figures

Development of the superconducting detectors and read-out for the X-IFU instrument on board of the X-ray observatory Athena [IMA]


The Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics (Athena) has been selected by ESA as its second large-class mission. The future European X-ray observatory will study the hot and energetic Universe with its launch foreseen in 2028. Microcalorimeters based on superconducting Transition-edge sensor (TES) are the chosen technology for the detectors array of the X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) on board of Athena. The X-IFU is a 2-D imaging integral-field spectrometer operating in the soft X-ray band (0.3 -12 keV). The detector consists of an array of 3840 TESs coupled to X-ray absorbers and read out in the MHz bandwidth using Frequency Domain Multiplexing (FDM) based on Superconducting QUantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs). The proposed design calls for devices with a high filling-factor, high quantum e?ciency, relatively high count-rate capability and an energy resolution of 2.5 eV at 5.9 keV. The paper will review the basic principle and the physics of the TES-based microcalorimeters and present the state-of-the art of the FDM read-out.

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L. Gottardi, H. Akamatsu, M. Bruijn, et. al.
Tue, 5 Apr 16

Comments: 4 pages,4 figures, available on line (this http URL)

Weak-Link Phenomena in AC-Biased Transition Edge Sensors [CL]


It has been recently demonstrated that superconducting transition edge sensors (TESs) behave as weak-links due to longitudinally induced superconductivity from the leads with higher Tc. In this work we study the implication of this behaviour for TES-based bolometers and microcalorimeter under ac bias. The TESs are read-out at frequencies between 1 and 5 MHz by a Frequency Domain Multiplexer based on a linearised two-stage SQUID amplifier and high- Q lithographically made superconducting LC resonators. In particular, we focus on SRON TiAu TES bolometers with a measured dark Noise Equivalent Power (NEP) of $3.2 \cdot 10^{-19} W/Hz^{1/2}$ developed for the short wavelength band for the instrument SAFARI on the SPICA telescope.

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L. Gottardi, H. Akamatsu, M. Bruijn, et. al.
Tue, 5 Apr 16

Comments: 6 pages, 5 figure

Relativistic formulation of the Hall-Vinen-Bekarevich-Khalatnikov superfluid hydrodynamics [CL]


The relativistic analogue of the Hall-Vinen-Bekarevich-Khalatnikov (HVBK) hydrodynamics is derived making use of the phenomenological method similar to that used by Bekarevich and Khalatnikov [1] in their derivation of HVBK-hydrodynamics. The resulting equations describe a finite-temperature superfluid liquid with the distributed vorticity. The main dissipative effects, including mutual friction, are taken into account. The proposed hydrodynamics is needed for reliable modeling of the dynamical properties of superfluid neutron stars.

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M. Gusakov
Wed, 3 Feb 16

Comments: 23 pages, submitted to PRD on 16 October, 2015

Development of Lumped Element Kinetic Inductance Detectors for the W-Band [IMA]


We are developing a Lumped Element Kinetic Inductance Detector (LEKID) array able to operate in the W-band (75-110 GHz) in order to perform ground-based Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) and mm-wave astronomical observations. The W-band is close to optimal in terms of contamination of the CMB from Galactic synchrotron, free-free, and thermal interstellar dust. In this band, the atmosphere has very good transparency, allowing interesting ground-based observations with large (>30 m) telescopes, achieving high angular resolution (<0.4 arcmin). In this work we describe the startup measurements devoted to the optimization of a W-band camera/spectrometer prototype for large aperture telescopes like the 64 m SRT (Sardinia Radio Telescope). In the process of selecting the best superconducting film for the LEKID, we characterized a 40 nm thick Aluminum 2-pixel array. We measured the minimum frequency able to break CPs (i.e. $h\nu=2\Delta\left(T_{c}\right)=3.5k_{B}T_{c}$) obtaining $\nu=95.5$ GHz, that corresponds to a critical temperature of 1.31 K. This is not suitable to cover the entire W-band. For an 80 nm layer the minimum frequency decreases to 93.2 GHz, which corresponds to a critical temperature of 1.28 K; this value is still suboptimal for W-band operation. Further increase of the Al film thickness results in bad performance of the detector. We have thus considered a Titanium-Aluminum bi-layer (10 nm thick Ti + 25 nm thick Al, already tested in other laboratories), for which we measured a critical temperature of 820 mK and a cut-on frequency of 65 GHz: so this solution allows operation in the entire W-band.

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A. Paiella, A. Coppolecchia, M. Castellano, et. al.
Fri, 8 Jan 16

Comments: 16th International Workshop on Low Temperature Detectors, Grenoble 20-24 July 2015, Journal of Low Temperature Physics, Accepted

Reproducing sterile neutrinos and the behavior of flavor oscillations with superconducting-magnetic proximity effects [CL]


The physics of a superconductor subjected to a magnetic field is known to be equivalent to neutrino oscillations. Examining the properties of singlet-triplet oscillations in the magnetic field, a sterile neutrino–shown to be a Majorana fermion–is suggested to be represented by singlet Cooper pairs and moderates flavor oscillations between three flavor neutrinos (triplet Cooper pairs). A superconductor-exchange spring system’s rotating magnetization profile is used to simulate the mass-flavor oscillations in the neutrino case and the physics of neutrino oscillations are discussed. Symmetry protected triplet components are presented as weak process states. Phases acquired due to the Fulde-Ferrell-Larkin-Ovchinnikov effect produce a complex phase that may be responsible for charge-parity violation in flavor oscillations.

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T. Baker
Wed, 6 Jan 16

Comments: 14 pages, 6 figures

Photon noise from chaotic and coherent millimeter-wave sources measured with horn-coupled, aluminum lumped-element kinetic inductance detectors [IMA]


We report photon-noise limited performance of horn-coupled, aluminum lumped-element kinetic inductance detectors at millimeter wavelengths. The detectors are illuminated by a millimeter-wave source that uses an active multiplier chain to produce radiation between 140 and 160 GHz. We feed the multiplier with either amplified broadband noise or a continuous-wave tone from a microwave signal generator. We demonstrate that the detector response over a 40 dB range of source power is well-described by a simple model that considers the number of quasiparticles. The detector noise-equivalent power (NEP) is dominated by photon noise when the absorbed power is greater than approximately 1 pW, which corresponds to $\mathrm{NEP} \approx 2 \times 10^{-17} \; \mathrm{W} \; \mathrm{Hz}^{-1/2}$, referenced to absorbed power. At higher source power levels we observe the relationships between noise and power expected from the photon statistics of the source signal: $\mathrm{NEP} \propto P$ for broadband (chaotic) illumination and $\mathrm{NEP} \propto P^{1/2}$ for continuous-wave (coherent) illumination. We develop a detailed model for the device noise and demonstrate absolute calibration of the absorbed power in both source modes using the scaling of the photon noise with power.

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D. Flanigan, H. McCarrick, G. Jones, et. al.
Fri, 23 Oct 15

Comments: 5 pages, 2 figures; includes supplemental material

Cascading Multicriticality in Nonrelativistic Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking [CL]


Without Lorentz invariance, spontaneous global symmetry breaking can lead to multicritical Nambu-Goldstone modes with a higher-order low-energy dispersion $\omega\sim k^n$ ($n=2,3,\ldots$), whose naturalness is protected by polynomial shift symmetries. Here we investigate the role of infrared divergences and the nonrelativistic generalization of the Coleman-Hohenberg-Mermin-Wagner (CHMW) theorem. We find novel cascading phenomena with large hierarchies between the scales at which the value of $n$ changes, leading to an evasion of the “no-go” consequences of the relativistic CHMW theorem.

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T. Griffin, K. Grosvenor, P. Horava, et. al.
Tue, 28 Jul 15

Comments: 5 pages, 1 figure

Highly Multiplexible Thermal Kinetic Inductance Detectors for X-Ray Imaging Spectroscopy [IMA]


For X-ray imaging spectroscopy, high spatial resolution over a large field of view is often as important as high energy resolution, but current X-ray detectors do not provide both in the same device. Thermal Kinetic Inductance Detectors (TKIDs) are being developed as they offer a feasible way to combine the energy resolution of transition edge sensors with pixel counts approaching CCDs and thus promise significant improvements for many X-ray spectroscopy applications. TKIDs are a variation of Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors (MKIDs) and share their multiplexibility: working MKID arrays with 2024 pixels have recently been demonstrated and much bigger arrays are under development. In this work, we present our first working TKID prototypes which are able to achieve an energy resolution of 75 eV at 5.9 keV, even though their general design still has to be optimized. We further describe TKID fabrication, characterization, multiplexing and working principle and demonstrate the necessity of a data fitting algorithm in order to extract photon energies. With further design optimizations we expect to be able to improve our TKID energy resolution to less than 10 eV at 5.9 keV.

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G. Ulbricht, B. Mazin, P. Szypryt, et. al.
Fri, 26 Jun 15

Comments: 7 pages, 4 figures, accepted for publication in Applied Physics Letters

The non-equilibrium response of a superconductor to pair-breaking radiation measured over a broad frequency band [CL]


We have measured the absorption of terahertz radiation in a BCS superconductor over a broad range of frequencies from 200 GHz to 1.1 THz, using a broadband antenna-lens system and a tantalum microwave resonator. From low frequencies, the response of the resonator rises rapidly to a maximum at the gap edge of the superconductor. From there on the response drops to half the maximum response at twice the pair-breaking energy. At higher frequencies, the response rises again due to trapping of pair-breaking phonons in the superconductor. In practice this is the first measurement of the frequency dependence of the quasiparticle creation efficiency due to pair-breaking in a superconductor. The efficiency, calculated from the different non-equilibrium quasiparticle distribution functions at each frequency, is in agreement with the measurements.

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P. Visser, S. Yates, T. Guruswamy, et. al.
Mon, 25 May 15

Comments: N/A

Multiple Period States of the Superfluid Fermi Gas in an Optical Lattice [CL]


We study multiple period states of a superfluid Fermi gas in an optical lattice along the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) to Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) crossover. The existence of states whose period is a multiple of the lattice spacing is a consequence of the non-linear behavior of the gas, which is due to the presence of the order parameter associated with superfluidity. By solving Bogoliubov-de Gennes equations we find that, in the BCS side of the crossover, the multiple period states can be energetically favorable compared to the normal Bloch states and their survival time against dynamical instability drastically increases, suggesting that these states can be accessible in current experiments with ultracold gases. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in BECs.

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S. Yoon, F. Dalfovo, T. Nakatsukasa, et. al.
Mon, 30 Mar 15

Comments: 5 pages, 5 figures

Heat transfer coefficient saturation in superconducting Nb tunnel junctions contacted to a NbTiN circuit and an Au energy relaxation layer [CL]


In this paper we present the experimental realization of a Nb tunnel junction connected to a high-gap superconducting NbTiN embedding circuit. We investigate relaxation of nonequilibrium quasiparticles in a small volume Au layer between the Nb tunnel junction and the NbTiN circuit. We find a saturation in the effective heat-transfer coefficient consistent with a simple theoretical model. This saturation is determined by the thickness of the Au layer. Our findings are important for the design of the ideal Au energy relaxation layer for practical SIS heterodyne mixers and we suggest two geometries, one, using a circular Au layer and, two, using a half-circular Au layer. Our work is concluded with an outlook of our future experiments.

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S. Selig, M. Westig, K. Jacobs, et. al.
Thu, 11 Dec 14

Comments: Applied Superconductivity Conference 2014

Some comments on a new type of superconducting gravity wave detector [IMA]


We have recently suggested a new approach and design of an ultra-sensitive gravity wave detector antenna based on superconductivity. The idea was described in a short paper [1]: this http URL, in entries on the arXiv [2]: arXiv:1111.2655, and at various conferences. Here we would like to explain in a more detailed manner the motivation for and the advantages of our approach.

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A. Guliana, J. Foremanb, V. Nikoghosyana, et. al.
Wed, 24 Sep 14

Comments: N/A

Performance of Hybrid NbTiN-Al Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors as Direct Detectors for Sub-millimeter Astronomy [IMA]


In the next decades millimeter and sub-mm astronomy requires large format imaging arrays and broad-band spectrometers to complement the high spatial and spectral resolution of the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array. The desired sensors for these instruments should have a background limited sensitivity and a high optical efficiency and enable arrays thousands of pixels in size. Hybrid microwave kinetic inductance detectors consisting of NbTiN and Al have shown to satisfy these requirements. We present the second generation hybrid NbTiN-Al MKIDs, which are photon noise limited in both phase and amplitude readout for loading levels $P_{850GHz} \geq 10$ fW. Thanks to the increased responsivity, the photon noise level achieved in phase allows us to simultaneously read out approximately 8000 pixels using state-of-the-art electronics. In addition, the choice of superconducting materials and the use of a Si lens in combination with a planar antenna gives these resonators the flexibility to operate within the frequency range $0.09 < \nu < 1.1$ THz. Given these specifications, hybrid NbTiN-Al MKIDs will enable astronomically usable kilopixel arrays for sub-mm imaging and moderate resolution spectroscopy.

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R. Janssen, J. Baselmans, A. Endo, et. al.
Fri, 15 Aug 14

Comments: 7 pages, 3 figures. Presented at SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Millimeter, Submillimeter, and Far-Infrared Detectors and Instrumentation for Astronomy VII

Photon-noise limited sensitivity in titanium nitride kinetic inductance detectors [IMA]


We demonstrate photon-noise limited performance at sub-millimeter wavelengths in feedhorn-coupled, microwave kinetic inductance detectors (MKIDs) made of a TiN/Ti/TiN trilayer superconducting film, tuned to have a transition temperature of 1.4 K. The lumped-element detector design enables dual-polarization sensitivity. The devices are fabricated on a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafer. Micro-machining of the SOI wafer backside creates a quarter-wavelength backshort optimized for efficient coupling at 250 $\mu$m. Using frequency read out and when viewing a variable temperature thermal source, we measure device noise consistent with photon noise when the incident optical power is $>$1 pW, corresponding to noise equivalent powers $>$ 4$\times 10^{-17}$ W/$\sqrt{\mathrm{Hz}}$. This sensitivity makes these devices suitable for broadband photometric applications at these wavelengths.

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J. Hubmayr, J. Beall, D. Becker, et. al.
Tue, 17 Jun 14

Comments: submitted to APL

RF heating efficiency of terahertz superconducting hot-electron bolometer [CL]


The system of differential equations for heat balance in a superconducting HEB and for the HEB electrical circuit is written in recurrent form and solved numerically by the Euler method. Dependence of the HEB resistance on the transport current is taken into account. RF heating efficiency, absorbed local oscillator (LO) power and conversion gain of the HEB mixer are calculated. It is shown that calculated conversion gain is in excellent agreement with experiment. It is shown that substitution of calculated RF heating efficiency and absorbed LO power to expressions for conversion gain and noise temperature given by the analytical small signal model of HEB yields excellent agreement with corresponding measured values.

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S. Maslennikov
Tue, 22 Apr 14

Axion mass estimates from resonant Josephson junctions [CL]


Recently it has been proposed that dark matter axions from the galactic halo can produce a small Shapiro step-like signal in Josephson junctions whose Josephson frequency resonates with the axion mass [C. Beck, PRL 111, 231801 (2013)]. Here we show that the axion field equations in a voltage-driven Josephson junction environment allow for a nontrivial solution where the axion-induced electric current manifests itself as an oscillating supercurrent. The linear change of phase associated with this nontrivial solution implies the existence of a large magnetic field in a tiny surface area of the weak link region of the junction which makes incoming axions decay into microwave photons. We derive a condition for the design of Josephson junction experiments so that they can act as optimum axion detectors. Four independent recent experiments are discussed in this context. The observed Shapiro step anomalies of all four experiments consistently point towards an axion mass of $(110 \pm 2)\mu $eV. This mass value is compatible with the recent BICEP2 results and implies that Peccei-Quinn symmetry breaking was taking place after inflation.

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C. Beck
Tue, 25 Mar 14

Electron-Phonon Coupling on the NbSi Transition Edge Sensors [IMA]


We have built an electron-phonon coupling model to describe the behavior of the NbxSi1-x transition edge sensor (TES) bolometers, fabricated by electron-beam coevaporation and photolithography techniques on a 2-inch silicon wafer. The resistance versus temperature curves of several sensors with different thickness are measured with different bias currents, ranging from 200 nA to 10 micro A, and the electron-phonon coupling coefficient and the electron-phonon thermal conductance are calculated herein. Our values are quite comparable with those in metallic TES samples of other groups using different measurement methods, while we are using the transition region of our TES sample to calculate the electron-phonon coupling interaction.

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S. Liu, S. Marnieros, L. Dumoulin, et. al.
Tue, 18 Feb 14

High optical efficiency and photon noise limited sensitivity of microwave kinetic inductance detectors using phase readout [CL]


We demonstrate photon noise limited performance in both phase and amplitude readout in microwave kinetic inductance detectors (MKIDs) consisting of NbTiN and Al, down to 100 fW of optical power. We simulate the far field beam pattern of the lens-antenna system used to couple radiation into the MKID and derive an aperture efficiency of 75%. This is close to the theoretical maximum of 80% for a single-moded detector. The beam patterns are verified by a detailed analysis of the optical coupling within our measurement setup.

Read this paper on arXiv…

Tue, 12 Nov 13