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Superconducting Sn/Sn‐oxide/Sn tunneling junctions as high‐resolution x‐ray detectors

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2 Author(s)
Twerenbold, D. ; Swiss Institute for Nuclear Research, CH‐5234 Villigen, Switzerland ; Zehnder, A.

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In a superconducting detector, the energy resolution is expected to be superior than in a semiconductor detector, owing to the thousand times smaller energy gap Δ. The performance of Sn/Sn‐oxide/Sn tunneling junctions (operated in the Giaever mode at T=0.32 K) exposed to 6‐keV x‐ray photons of a 55Fe source is presented. The best energy resolution observed is 67 eV (FWHM). Extrapolating to vanishing electronic noise, an intrinsic resolution of 0.7% (FWHM) is obtained. This is an order of magnitude worse than expected from the statistics of the 2.5×106 primary electron charges produced, and is believed to be due to geometrical effects in the films. The energy response of the detector is nonlinear, owing to the self‐recombination of the free charge carriers. At a fixed bias voltage, the pulses generated in either film of the junction were observed to have the same sign. If the junctions are evaporated onto a silicon substrate, most of the pulses originate, via phonon backscattering, from x‐ray photons interacting in the substrate. Quasiparticle diffusion is essential in explaining the observed data.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:61 ,  Issue: 1 )