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X-ray and optical photon counting detector using superconducting tunnel junctions

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4 Author(s)
Delaet, B. ; Lab. d''Astrophys., Obs. de Grenoble, France ; Feautrier, P. ; Villegier, J.-C. ; Benoit, A.

The properties of Superconducting Tunnel Junctions (STJ) make them very suitable for low light level astronomical observations. STJ detectors could be used to improve the sensitivity of such a system to be implemented on ground based telescopes. We have developed a modified version of the “SNEP” fabrication process for making Nb/Al-AlOx-Al/Nb and Ta/Al-AlOx-Al/Ta/Nb STJ's. These junctions show a very low sub-gap leakage current at 0.1 K. They use a double thin aluminum trapping layer and a Nb or Ta absorber grown epitaxially on a R-plane sapphire substrate. A new experimental set-up has been completed to achieve photon counting performances for the X-ray and for optical-near infrared wavelengths. An original, room temperature, charge sensitive preamplifier has been built for this purpose and tested with a 55Fe X-ray source. The 6 keV peak of this source can be observed in the measured spectrum. Photon counting ability in the near infrared at 0.78 μm is also demonstrated

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Applied Superconductivity, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:11 ,  Issue: 1 )