Skip to Main Content
We discuss an implementation of a hot-electron transition-edge sensor (TES) capable of counting THz photons. The main need for such a THz calorimeter is spectroscopy on future space telescopes with a background limited NEP∼10-20 W/Hz12/. The micromachined bolometers will unlikely reach such sensitivity at temperatures above 10 mK. The hot-electron TES with sufficient sensitivity will still have a time constant ∼0.1-1.0 ms that is too short for integrating a flux of THz background photons arriving at a rate of <100 s-1. The Hot-Electron Photon Counter based on a submicron-size superconducting Ti bridge with Nb Andreev contacts will be able to detect individual photons above 170 GHz due to its very low heat capacity. A discrimination of the low energy fluctuations with a threshold device would allow for realization of an NEP∼10-20 W/Hz12/ at ≥1 THz while operating at 300 mK. With the sensor time constant of a few microseconds, the dynamic range is ∼30-40 dB. A compact array of the antenna-coupled counters can be fabricated on a silicon wafer without membranes.