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Proceedings Paper

Terahertz (THz) direct detectors based on superconducting HEBs with thermal, THz and microwave biasing methods (Conference Presentation)
Author(s): Jian Chen

Paper Abstract

Superconducting hot electron bolometers (HEBs) are widely used as terahertz (THz) heterodyne detectors (mixers) and becoming the most advantageous candidate for low noise receiver at frequencies above 1.2 THz. However, there is still lack of accurate theoretical modeling which explains the complex mechanism of different aspects of superconducting HEBs. These difficulties do not prevent researchers around the world from making experimental progress. In the last few years, superconducting HEBs are also used as THz direct detectors to develop the array for the applications in biology, medicine and security systems. Recently, a noise equivalent power (NEP) of 0.2 pW/√Hz at 2.5 THz is reported for the superconducting HEBs with thermal biasing. Instead of thermal one, microwave (MW) which was first used to stabilize the HEB mixer is also applied to bias the device as a direct detector. Furthermore, THz can be used to bias the HEBs, if THz sources can be provided easy. Although MW biasing can improve sensitivity of the superconducting HEB direct detectors, little work has been done to compare the responsivity and NEP among the THz direct detectors with thermal, THz and MW biasing. To find a best biasing method, we have studied the similarities and differences of the direct detectors based on the superconducting HEBs with three different biasing methods. The fabricated NbN HEB detectors consist of a complementary logarithmic-spiral antenna made of gold and an NbN film (bridge) connecting across the antenna’s inner terminals. We have fabricated the niobium nitride (NbN) superconducting HEB mixers with the system double sideband (DSB) noise temperature better than 8 times of the quantum limit: hf/kB (where h is the Planck constant, kB is the Boltzmann constant and f is the operating frequency) at the frequencies higher than 1 THz. Here, the mixer chips with the system DSB noise temperature of about 400 K and the intermediate frequency (IF) gain bandwidth (GBW) of larger than 5 GHz at 4.2 K and 0.65 THz have been used. As the direct detectors, the current responsivity of 290 A/W and 105 A/W are obtained for MW and THz biasing, which about one order higher than that of thermal biasing. The NEP of 2.7 pW/√Hz is obtained with MW biasing, which can be expected to be improved in the future.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 May 2019
Proc. SPIE 10983, Next-Generation Spectroscopic Technologies XII, 109830N (14 May 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2518196
Show Author Affiliations
Jian Chen, Nanjing Univ. (China)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10983:
Next-Generation Spectroscopic Technologies XII
Richard A. Crocombe; Luisa T.M. Profeta; Abul K. Azad, Editor(s)

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