Terahertz spectrometers with a wide instantaneous frequency coverage for passive remote sensing are enormously attractive for many terahertz applications, such as astronomy, atmospheric science, and security. Here we demonstrate a wide-band terahertz spectrometer based on a single superconducting chip. The chip consists of an antenna coupled to a transmission line filterbank, with a microwave kinetic inductance detector behind each filter. Using frequency division multiplexing, all detectors are read-out simultaneously, creating a wide-band spectrometer with an instantaneous bandwidth of 45 GHz centered around 350 GHz. The spectrometer has a spectral resolution of F / ΔF = 380 and reaches photon-noise limited sensitivity. We discuss the chip design and fabrication, as well as the system integration and testing. We confirm full system operation by the detection of an emission line spectrum of methanol gas. The proposed concept allows for spectroscopic radiation detection over large bandwidths and resolutions up to F / ΔF ∼ 1000, all using a chip area of a few cm2. This will allow the construction of medium resolution imaging spectrometers with unprecedented speed and sensitivity.
GUSTO will be a NASA balloon borne terahertz observatory to be launched from Antarctica in late 2021 for a flight duration of 100-170 days. It aims at reviewing the life cycle of interstellar medium of our galaxy by simultaneously mapping the three brightest interstellar cooling lines: [OI] at 4.7 THz, [CII] at 1.9 THz, and [NII] at 1.4 THz; along the 124 degrees of the galactic plane and through a part of the Large Magellanic Cloud. It will use three arrays of 4x2 mixers based on NbN hot electron bolometers (HEBs), which are currently the most sensitive mixers for high resolution spectroscopic astronomy at these frequencies.
Here we report on the design of a novel 4.7 THz receiver for GUSTO. The receiver consists mainly of two subsystems: a 4×2 HEB quasi-optical mixer array and a 4.7 THz multi-beam LO. We describe the mixer array, which is designed as a compact monolithic unit. We show, for example, 10 potential HEB detectors with the state of the art sensitivity of 720 K measured at 2.5 THz. They have a small variation in sensitivity, being less than 3%, while also meet the LO uniformity requirements. For the multi-beam LO we demonstrate the combination of a phase grating and a single QCL at 4.7 THz, which generates 8 sub-LO beams, where the phase grating shows an efficiency of 75%. A preliminary concept for the integrated LO unit, including QCL, phase grating and beam matching optics is presented.