Design and analysis of a broadband SIS-mixer for the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI) on the Herschel Space Observatory


In this thesis the design and analysis of SIS-mixers (SIS: superconductor-isolator-superconductor) for the use as low-noise and broad-band detectors in the submm-region for astronomical observations is described. The SIS-mixers have been developed for the frequency band 2 (636-802 GHz) of the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI) on ESA’s space-observatory Herschel. The required performance baseline has been defined by the HIFI-consortium in terms of the estimated noise temperature contribution of the mixer to be 110 K at 636 GHz and 150 K at 802 GHz. In the frequency region between 80 GHz and 900 GHz Heterodyne SIS mixers are established as the best devices for low noise mixing with a high spectral resolution (mixing of the signal radiation with local oscillator, LO). For the HIFI band 2 mixers, the technology of Nb/Al-Al2O3/Nb-junctions has been used with junction areas of 0.5-1.0 um2, a target value for the current density jc of 15 kA/cm2 and a gap-voltage of 2.75-2.77 mV. For the compensation of the SIS-junction’s intrinsic capacitance and the optimized power coupling to the tunnel junction, two types of matching circuits have been theoretically modelled and experimentally studied: (1) three-step transformer single junction devices and (2) double-junction devices. This has been done for two material combinations: for an all-superconductive micro strip NbTiN/SiO2/Nb, and for the superconductor/normal-conductor combination NbTiN/SiO2/Al...
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