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Single-photon-counting hotspot detector with integrated RSFQ readout electronics

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2 Author(s)
Gupta, D. ; HYRES, Elmsford, NY, USA ; Kadin, A.M.

Absorption of an infrared photon in an ultrathin film (such as 10-nm NbN) creates a localized nonequilibrium hotspot on the submicron length scale and sub-ns time scale. If a strip /spl sim/1 /spl mu/m wide is biased in the middle of the superconducting transition, this hotspot will lead to a resistance pulse with amplitude proportional to the energy of the incident photon. This resistance pulse, in turn, can be converted to a current pulse and inductively coupled to a SQUID amplifier with a digitized output, operating at 4 K or above. A preliminary design analysis indicates that this data can be processed on-chip, using ultrafast RSFQ digital circuits, to obtain a sensitive infrared detector for wavelengths up to 10 /spl mu/m and beyond, with bandwidth of 1 GHz, that counts individual photons and measures their energy with 25 meV resolution. This proposed device combines the speed of a hot-electron bolometer with the single-photon-counting ability of a transition-edge microcalorimeter, to obtain an infrared detector with sensitivity, speed, and spectral selectivity that are unmatched by any alternative technology.

Published in:

Applied Superconductivity, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:9 ,  Issue: 2 )