NbN and NbTiN Hot Electron Bolometer THz Mixers
Doctoral thesis, 2003
The thesis reports the development of Hot Electron Bolometer (HEB) mixers for radio astronomy heterodyne receivers in THz frequency range. Part of this work is the fabrication of HEB devices, which are based on NbN or NbTiN superconducting thin films (≤5 nm). They are integrated with wideband spiral or double-slot planar antennas. The mixer chips are incorporated into a quasi-optical receiver. The experimental part of this work focuses on the characterization of the receiver as a whole, and the HEB mixers as a part. Double side band receiver noise temperature and the IF bandwidth are reported for frequencies from 0.7 THz up to 2.6 THz. The spectrum of the direct response of HEB integrated with dierent antennas are measured using Fourier Transform Spectrometer (FTS). The effect of the bolometer size on total receiver performance and the LO power requirements is also discussed. A high-yield and reliable process for fabrication of NbN HEB mixers have been achieved. Over 100 devices with different bolometer geometry, film property and also different antennas have been fabricated and measured. The measured data enables us to discuss the impact of different parameters to the receiver overall performance.
This work has provided NbN HEB mixers to the following receivers:
TREND (Terahertz REceiver with NbN HEB Device) operating at 1.25-1.5 THz, installed in AST/RO Submillimeter Wave Telescope, Amundsen/Scott South Pole Station, in 2002-2003.
Band 6-low (1.410-1.700 THz) and 6-high (1.700-1.920 THz) of the HIFI (Heterodyne Instrument for Far Infra-red) in the Herschel Space Observatory, due to launch in 2007 by ESA (European Space Agency).
Besides, there has been continuous efforts to develop better models to explain the mixer performance more accurately. They are based on two temperature model for electrons and phonons and solving one-dimensional heat balance equations along the bolometer. The principles of these models are illustrated and the calculated results are compared with measured data.
hot electron bolometer
double slot antenna
twin slot antenna
Fourier Transform Spectrometer