Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New SQUID-based detector opens up new fields of study with new level of sensitivity

14.08.2017

A new sensor array using superconducting quantum interference demonstrates impressive sensitivity and bandwidth, offering new applications in nuclear material tracking, astronomy and more

Investigators at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new sensor array-based instrument that offers ultra-low noise detection of small amounts of energy for a number of applications. The new device allows for the collection of data from many more detectors than was previously possible. The advance, reported in this week's issue of Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, is expected to allow applications in fields as diverse as nuclear materials accounting, astrophysics and X-ray spectrometry.


This is a photograph of a 33-channel SQUID multiplexer chip (20 mm x 4 mm) along with its microwave response showing the associated resonances. Multiple chips are daisy-chained together to achieve larger multiplexing factors.

Credit: J.A.B. Mates, University of Colorado, Boulder

The instrument consists of 128 superconducting sensors and combines their output into a single channel provided by a pair of coaxial cables. In the past, array size was limited by the bandwidth available to combine signals into a reasonable number of output channels. This new research demonstrates a hundred-fold bandwidth improvement, and the investigators plan to do even better soon. They overcame the bandwidth barrier by using very cold superconducting microwave circuitry and superconducting quantum interference device amplifiers, known as SQUIDs, capable of boosting the intensity of small signals.

The new device uses radiofrequency SQUIDs to regulate high-quality microwave resonators. When these resonators are coupled to a common microwave feed line, with each resonator tuned to a different frequency, all sensors can be simultaneously monitored.

"It's as if one were trying to listen to hundreds of radio stations at one time, through one radio receiver," said Ben Mates of the University of Colorado and lead author of the work. The SQUID resonators boost the signal in each channel, he explained, allowing simultaneous readout of all the radio stations at once.

Versions of the new instrument can detect signals over a wide range of frequencies, from short-wavelength gamma or X-rays to long-wavelength microwaves. Gamma ray detection is crucial for nuclear materials accounting, particularly for tracking plutonium isotopes in spent nuclear fuels. Since plutonium can be used to create nuclear weapons, it is important to have fast, accurate methods to measure the amount of plutonium in nuclear fuel sent for reprocessing.

Current technology for tracking plutonium uses mass spectrometry, but this method is expensive and time consuming. Faster and less costly technologies based on gamma-ray spectroscopy don't have the accuracy to rule out small discrepancies in amounts of plutonium from a large facility. Only 8-10 kilograms of missing material is needed to build a nuclear bomb. The new array detectors are candidates to improve the accuracy of gamma-ray spectroscopy so that nuclear material can be tracked more easily.

At the other end of the spectrum, the new instrument is expected to improve astronomical studies of cosmic microwave background radiation, which is mostly uniform, although small and important fluctuations exist in its intensity and polarization. The researchers predict that similar versions of their instrument will be used to search for fluctuations in polarization that are a signature of an inflationary epoch in the earliest moments of the universe.

The investigators hope that a larger array will allow them to develop, in collaboration with the Department of Energy's SLAC facility at Stanford, a unique spectrometer capable of simultaneously collecting and precisely measuring many high energy X-rays from materials under study at the California facility's X-ray free electron laser. Penetrating X-rays from this powerful tool are increasingly used to understand the properties of matter on ultrashort timescales, but larger detector arrays are desirable even for this bright X-ray source. Toward this end, future work will focus on increasing the array size to a thousand sensors or more.

###

The article, "Simultaneous readout of 128 X-ray and Gamma-ray Transition-edge Microcalorimeters using Microwave SQUID Multiplexing," is authored by J.A.B. Mates, D.T. Becker, D.A. Bennett, B.J. Dober, J.D. Gard, J.P. Hays-Wehle, J.W. Fowler, G.C. Hilton, C.D. Reintsema, D.R. Schmidt, D.S. Swetz, J.R. Vale and J.N. Ullom. The article [DOI: 10.1063/1.4986222] appeared in Applied Physics Letters on August 8, 2017 and can be accessed at: http://aip.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/1.4986222 .

ABOUT THE JOURNAL

Applied Physics Letters features concise, rapid reports on significant new findings in applied physics. The journal covers new experimental and theoretical research on applications of physics phenomena related to all branches of science, engineering, and modern technology. See http://apl.aip.org.

Media Contact

Julia Majors
media@aip.org
301-209-3090

 @AIPPhysicsNews

http://www.aip.org 

Julia Majors | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: SQUID SQUIDs X-ray detector fluctuations nuclear materials spectroscopy

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion
16.11.2018 | University of New Hampshire

nachricht NASA keeps watch over space explosions
16.11.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New materials: Growing polymer pelts

19.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Earthquake researchers finalists for supercomputing prize

19.11.2018 | Information Technology

Controlling organ growth with light

19.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>