Advancements in Kinetic Inductance Detector, Spectrometer, and Amplifier Technologies for Millimeter-Wave Astronomy

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The inductance of a conductor expresses its tendency to oppose a change in current flowing through it. For superconductors, in addition to the familiar magnetic inductance due to energy stored

The inductance of a conductor expresses its tendency to oppose a change in current flowing through it. For superconductors, in addition to the familiar magnetic inductance due to energy stored in the magnetic field generated by this current, kinetic inductance due to inertia of charge carriers is a significant and often dominant contribution to total inductance. Devices based on modifying the kinetic inductance of thin film superconductors have widespread application to millimeter-wave astronomy. Lithographically patterning such a film into a high quality factor resonator produces a high sensitivity photodetector known as a kinetic inductance detector (KID), which is sensitive to frequencies above the superconducting energy gap of the chosen material. Inherently multiplexable in the frequency domain and relatively simple to fabricate, KIDs pave the way to the large format focal plane array instruments necessary to conduct the next generation of cosmic microwave background (CMB), star formation, and galaxy evolution studies. In addition, non-linear kinetic inductance can be exploited to develop traveling wave kinetic inductance parametric amplifiers (TKIPs) based on superconducting delay lines to read out these instruments.

I present my contributions to both large and small scale collaborative efforts to develop KID arrays, spectrometers integrated with KIDs, and TKIPs. I optimize a dual polarization TiN KID absorber for the next generation Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope for Polarimetry, which is designed to investigate the role magnetic fields play in star formation. As part of an effort to demonstrate aluminum KIDs on sky for CMB polarimetry, I fabricate devices for three design variants. SuperSpec and WSpec are respectively the on-chip and waveguide implementations of a filter bank spectrometer concept designed for survey spectroscopy of high redshift galaxies. I provide a robust tool for characterizing the performance of all SuperSpec devices and demonstrate basic functionality of the first WSpec prototype. As part of an effort to develop the first W-Band (75-110 GHz) TKIP, I construct a cryogenic waveguide feedthrough, which enhances the Astronomical Instrumentation Laboratory’s capability to test W-Band devices in general. These efforts contribute to the continued maturation of these kinetic inductance technologies, which will usher in a new era of millimeter-wave astronomy.