Antenna Integrated Superconducting Mixers
Doktorsavhandling, 1995

This thesis investigates the prospects of some different superconducting mixers integrated with planar antennas for the millimeter and submillimeter regime. Two kinds of Superconductor/Insulator/Superconductor (SIS) tunnel junctions for use in mixers have been fabricated; Nb/PbBi edge junctions and Nb trilayer junctions. One of the very high quality trilayer mixers is currently operating in a 350 GHz radio-telescope heterodyne-receiver. The reduced sensitivity of SIS mixers for frequencies above the gap frequency (?700 GHz) of the superconductors has directed the interest towards another type of superconducting mixer device, the superconducting Hot Electron Bolometer (HEB). Various types of this device have been studied; Nb devices for scale-measurements at 20 GHz to more easily verify some of the theoretical background of the HEB, NbN waveguide devices for 100 GHz, and NbN devices integrated with planar antennas for a quasi-optical mixer at 350 GHz. Two types of planar antennas have been used; the endfire "Broken" Linearly Tapered Slotline Antenna (BLTSA) on a thin dielectric membrane, and the double dipole antenna on a quartz substrate lens. The beam pattern of the BLTSA has been examined theoretically and measured at 40 GHz with antennas supported by Kapton foil, and at 350 and 800 GHz with antennas on thin dielectric SiOxNy membranes. Measurements of the 20 GHz Nb HEB show a mixer conversion loss close to 0 dB for IF frequencies below 40 MHz. The maximum IF bandwidth given by the electron temperature relaxation time corresponds to a frequency of about 80 MHz. A DSB mixer noise temperature of only a few hundred Kelvin has been measured. Corresponding measurements of NbN devices at 100 and 350 GHz give a mixer conversion loss of about 6-10 dB and an IF bandwidth of about 700 to 1000 MHz. The output noise is found to be dominated by electron temperature fluctuations with an equivalent noise temperature of about 100 K, and a frequency dependence equal to that of the IF signal. Phenomenological expressions for conversion loss, noise, and IF impedance have been compared measurements and shows good agreement. The quasioptical NbN HEB mixers are still under development with respect to film quality and coupling to radiation, why the mixer performance of these is expected to improve.

tapered slotline antenna


double dipole antenna


hot electron




trilayer junction

edge junction

Niobium Nitride



Hans Ekström

Institutionen för mikrovågsteknik





Technical report - School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden: 272

Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 1090