At SRON we are developing the Frequency Domain Multiplexing (FDM) for the read-out of the TES-based
detector array for the future infrared and X-ray space mission. We describe the performances of a multiplexer
designed to increase the experimental throughput in the characterisation of ultra-low noise equivalent power
(NEP) TES bolometers and high energy resolving power X-ray microcalorimeters arrays under ac and dc bias.
We discuss the results obtained using the TiAu TES bolometers array fabricated at SRON with measured dark
NEP below 5 · 10−19W/
Hz and saturation power of several fW.
We have investigated the thermal, electrical, and structural properties of Bi and BiCu films that are being developed as X-ray absorbers for transition-edge sensor (TES) microcalorimeter arrays for imaging X-ray spectroscopy. Bi could be an ideal material for an X-ray absorber due to its high X-ray stopping power and low specific heat capacity, but it has a low thermal conductivity, which can result in position dependence of the pulses in the absorber. In order to improve the thermal conductivity, we added Cu layers in between the Bi layers. We measured electrical and thermal conductivities of the films around 0.1 K, the operating temperature of the TES calorimeter, to examine the films and to determine the optimal thickness of the Cu layer. From the electrical conductivity measurements, we found that the Cu is more resistive on the Bi than on a Si substrate. Together with a SEM picture of the Bi surface, we concluded that the rough surface of the Bi film makes the Cu layer resistive when the Cu layer is not thick enough to fill in the roughness. From the thermal conductivity measurements, we determined the thermal diffusion constant to be 2 x 103 μm2μs-1 in a film that consists of 2.25 μm of Bi and 0.1 μm of Cu. We measured the position dependence in the film and found that its thermal diffusion constant is too low to get good energy resolution, because of the resistive Cu layer and/or possibly a very high heat capacity of our Bi films. We show plans to improve the thermal diffusion constant in our BiCu absorber.
We present our latest results from our development of Position-Sensitive Transition-Edge Sensors (PoSTs). Our devices work as one-dimensional imaging spectrometers. They consist of a long absorber (segmented or solid) with a transition-edge sensor (TES) on each end. When X-rays hit the absorber, the comparison of the signals sensed in the two TESs determine the position of the TES, while the addition of the signals gives the energy of the X-ray. We obtained impedance curves for three different devices and obtained reasonable fits with our theoretical PoST model.
We present recent measurements obtained using a new method for characterizing transition edge sensor (TES) calorimeters: We measured the electrical impedance of a TES calorimeter throughout the superconducting to normal metal phase transition. The impedance method enables us to previously measure how the resistance and heat capacity of the TES varied throughout the phase transition. These measurements probe the internal state of oru Mo/Au TES. We also present recent results from measurements of noise in our TESs. Our measurements are instrumental toward understanding and optimizing our TES calorimeters.
X-ray microcalorimeters using transition-edge sensors (TES) show great promise for use in astronomical x-ray spectroscopy. We have obtained very high energy resolution (2.8 eV at 1.5 keV and 3.7 eV at 3.3 keV) in a large, isolated TES pixel using a Mo/Au proximity-effect bilayer on a silicon nitride membrane. We will discuss the performance and our characterization of that device. In order to be truly suitable for use behind an x-ray telescope, however, such devices need to be arrayed with a pixel size and focal-plane coverage commensurate with the telescope focal length and spatial resolution. Since this requires fitting the TES and its thermal link, a critical component of each calorimeter pixel, into a far more compact geometry than has previously been investigated, we must study the fundamental scaling laws in pixel optimization. We have designed a photolithography mask that will allow us to probe the range in thermal conductance that can be obtained by perforating the nitride membrane in a narrow perimeter around the sensor. This mask will also show the effects of reducing the TES area. Though we have not yet tested devices of the compact designs, we will present our progress in several of the key processing steps and discuss the parameter space of our intended investigations.
In the X-ray astrophysics community, the desire for wide- field, high-resolution, X-ray imaging spectrometers has been growing for some time. We present a concept for such a detector called a Position-Sensing Transition-edge sensor (PoST). A PoST is a calorimeter consisting of two Transition- Edge Sensors (TESs) on the ends of a long absorber to do one dimensional imaging spectroscopy. Comparing the rise time and energy estimates obtained from each TES for a given event, the position of that event in the PoST is determined. Energy is inferred from the sum of the two signals on the TESs. We have designed 7, 15, and 32 pixel PoSTs using our Mo/Au TESs and bismuth absorbers. We discuss the theory, modeling, operation and readout of PoSTs and the latest results from our development.
Superconducting tunnel junctions can be used as part of a high-resolution, energy-dispersive x- ray detector. The energy of the absorbed x ray is used to break superconducting electron pairs, producing on the order of 106 excitations, called quasiparticles. The number of quasiparticles produced is proportional to the energy of the absorbed x ray. When a bias voltage is maintained across the barrier, these quasiparticles produce a net tunneling current. Either the peak tunneling current or the total tunneled charge may be measured to determine the energy of the absorbed x ray. The tunneling rate, and therefore the signal, is enhanced by the use of a quasiparticle trap near the tunnel barrier. The trapping efficiency is improved by decreasing the energy gap, though this reduces the maximum temperature at which the device may operate. In our niobium/aluminum configuration, we can very the energy gap in the trapping layer by varying its thickness. This paper examines the performance of two devices with 50 nm aluminum traps at temperatures ranging from 100 mK to 700 mK. We found that this device has a very good energy resolution of about 12 eV FWHM at 1 keV. This energy resolution is independent of temperature for much of this temperature range.
This work presents the first results of our development of normal-insulating-superconducting tunnel junctions used as energy dispersive detectors for low energy particles. The device described here is a Ag/Al2O3/Al tunnel junction of area 1.5 multiplied by 104 micrometer squared with thicknesses of 200 nm for the normal Ag strip and 100 nm for the superconducting Al film. Two different high-speed SQUID systems manufactured by quantum magnetics and HYPRES, respectively, were used for the readout of this device. At 80 mK bath temperature we obtained an energy resolution DeltaEFWHM equals 250 eV for 5.89 keV x rays absorbed directly in the normal metal. This energy resolution appears to be limited in large part by the observed strong position dependence of the device response.
Superconducting tunnel junctions can be used as high resolution x-ray and gamma-ray detectors. Until recently, most results were from detectors that consisted of niobium and aluminum thin films deposited on insulating substrates. Typically Nb films with thicknesses of several hundred nanometers are used as absorbers. These thin film devices inherently suffer from poor quantum efficiency. To increase this efficiency a foil or a single crystal, which can be thicker and can have a larger area than the thin films, can be used as the superconducting absorber. We are working on using ultra-pure, high-Z, superconducting crystals as the x-ray and gamma-ray absorbers. We are planning to fabricate a detector which uses a 10 micrometer-thick Ta crystal as the absorber, which will have a quantum efficiency of greater than 99% at 6 keV. As a test of the different processing steps we fabricated Al/AlOx/Al superconducting tunnel junctions on top of a 30 micrometer thick Al foil. In this paper several of the fabrication issues involved are presented as well as the first results from the Al foil test devices.