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Nature. 2003 Oct 23;425(6960):817-21.

A broadband superconducting detector suitable for use in large arrays.

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Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California 91107, USA.


Cryogenic detectors are extremely sensitive and have a wide variety of applications (particularly in astronomy), but are difficult to integrate into large arrays like a modern CCD (charge-coupled device) camera. As current detectors of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) already have sensitivities comparable to the noise arising from the random arrival of CMB photons, the further gains in sensitivity needed to probe the very early Universe will have to arise from large arrays. A similar situation is encountered at other wavelengths. Single-pixel X-ray detectors now have a resolving power of DeltaE < 5 eV for single 6-keV photons, and future X-ray astronomy missions anticipate the need for 1,000-pixel arrays. Here we report the demonstration of a superconducting detector that is easily fabricated and can readily be incorporated into such an array. Its sensitivity is already within an order of magnitude of that needed for CMB observations, and its energy resolution is similarly close to the targets required for future X-ray astronomy missions.

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