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Hot-electron bolometer terahertz mixers for the Herschel Space Observatory

Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience, Physical Electronics Laboratory, Chalmers University of Technology, SE-41296 Göteborg, Sweden.
Review of Scientific Instruments (Impact Factor: 1.58). 04/2008; 79(3):034501. DOI: 10.1063/1.2890099
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We report on low noise terahertz mixers (1.4-1.9 THz) developed for the heterodyne spectrometer onboard the Herschel Space Observatory. The mixers employ double slot antenna integrated superconducting hot-electron bolometers (HEBs) made of thin NbN films. The mixer performance was characterized in terms of detection sensitivity across the entire rf band by using a Fourier transform spectrometer (from 0.5 to 2.5 THz, with 30 GHz resolution) and also by measuring the mixer noise temperature at a limited number of discrete frequencies. The lowest mixer noise temperature recorded was 750 K [double sideband (DSB)] at 1.6 THz and 950 K DSB at 1.9 THz local oscillator (LO) frequencies. Averaged across the intermediate frequency band of 2.4-4.8 GHz, the mixer noise temperature was 1100 K DSB at 1.6 THz and 1450 K DSB at 1.9 THz LO frequencies. The HEB heterodyne receiver stability has been analyzed and compared to the HEB stability in the direct detection mode. The optimal local oscillator power was determined and found to be in a 200-500 nW range.

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